Thousands of uninsured Virginians without dental care

Thousands of uninsured Virginia residents are missing out on free dental care this summer after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) delayed approval of an emergency services plan, according to a story in the Washington Post.

Virginia received authorization from HHS to use money from the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families fund to provide dental care to uninsured residents, and the Virginia Health Care Foundation submitted a proposal six months ago to use $5 million of that fund to treat up to 7,000 dental patients, according to the Post.

The state Department of Social Services reviewed the proposal and forwarded it to HHS, but HHS didn't approve the plan until June 16. The delay didn't leave enough time for clinics to schedule appointments and complete procedures by the September 30 deadline that Congress had set for spending the money, the foundation said.

Virginia has 33 free clinics and community health centers that offer basic dental services, but they don't have the resources for reconstructive and restorative procedures, Louis Markwith, executive director of the Virginia Association of Free Clinics, told the Post. The emergency funding was intended to cover these more complicated procedures.

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