SPOKANE, Wash. – Spokane dentists, already busy with their own private practices, are working for free to help cut the cost for dental care for uninsured, underinsured and low-income patients.
The Spokane District Dental Society identified the need and created the Inland Dental Expanded Access (IDEA) Clinic. It offers the same services people receive at their regular dentist at a reduced-fee scale. It opened earlier this month inside the Riverstone Clinic in Northeast Spokane.
The clinic is open five days a week, but the clinic’s dental director, John Wesley, said it could use more volunteer dentists to help meet the demand.
He said most dentists aren’t able to help out as many people as they would like because they can’t afford absorbing the cost of procedures that state health insurance no longer covers.
“They don’t want to make money, they just don’t want to lose so much money that they lose their business,” Wesley said. “So if we could make that happen, that would be a fast and easy way to access 3 or 400 more dentists, right away.”
The Washington State Dental Association is asking lawmakers to re-instate the adult Medicaid program to help cover dental services.
Meanwhile, Wesley hopes Spokane’s IDEA Clinic becomes a model for a nationwide solution.