Den­tures trou­ble for Vic­to­ria man

Teeth re­moved months ear­lier, bud­get nixes den­tal cov­er­age

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - BY AN­DREW ROBINSON COL­UMN editor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

When Dal­las Clarke spoke with the per­son on the other end of the line last Thurs­day to con­firm her fa­ther’s ap­point­ment with a den­tur­ist, she was shocked to find out the pro­ce­dure wasn’t cov­ered un­der the pro­vin­cial drug pro­gram.

“’You do un­der­stand that it’s not cov­ered on the gov­ern­ment pro­gram,’” Clarke re­calls be­ing told. “I said, ‘ You’re jok­ing.’ She said, ‘No. The day the bud­get went down, that pro­gram was fin­ished.’”

In the April 14 bud­get, gov­ern­ment elim­i­nated the Adult Den­tal Pro­gram, an­tic­i­pat­ing it will save the province $3 mil­lion an­nu­ally start­ing in 2017.

Les­lie Penney was pre­vi­ously cov­ered un­der the pro­gram as a se­nior over the age of 65. The pro­ce­dure to get his den­tures would cost ap­prox­i­mately $2,200.

“The man hadn’t been able to eat for three months,” said Clarke. “Soup and jelly.”

Penney was hav­ing some trou­ble with his mouth, and it was med­i­cally rec­om­mended in Jan­uary to re­move his teeth over the course of a few ap­point­ments. By Fe­bru­ary, the 85-year- old was down to only two teeth, forc­ing him to live on a diet of soup and other non-solid food options.

“He’s ad­justed his eat­ing habits and every­thing to this while he’s been heal­ing,” said Chris­tine Power, Penney’s other daugh­ter.

In early April be­fore the bud­get was in­tro­duced in the House of As­sem­bly, the ap­point­ment was booked for Penney to get his den­tures. Penney lives in his own apart­ment at­tached to Clarke’s home in Vic­to­ria.

Power said her fa­ther sur­vives on a fixed in­come with no ex­tra money to pay for den­tures. She said Penney would not have agreed to re­move his teeth in the first place if he knew the pro­ce­dure wouldn’t be cov­ered.

Power im­me­di­ately started con­tact­ing dif­fer­ent peo­ple in gov­ern­ment and other groups, in­clud­ing the New­found­land and Labrador Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion. Even­tu­ally, lo­cal MHA Steve Crocker got back to her with some good news. Gov­ern­ment would re­im­burse Penney for the pro­ce­dure.

AN­DREW ROBINSON/THE COM­PASS

Les­lie Penney of Vic­to­ria was left in a tight spot last week when he learned den­tures were no longer be­ing cov­ered un­der the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment plan.

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