Medicaid Freedom of Choice

Medicaid patients face grave difficulties obtaining timely and essential care, and suffer worse health outcomes as a result. Occasionally, the ensuing tragedies play out in newspapers, as with this 2007 report from the Washington Post: A 12-year-old Maryland boy named Deamonte Driver complained of a headache, which ultimately stemmed from an abscessed tooth. His mother had not noticed the problem, partially because she was working frantically to find a Maryland dentist to treat her other son, who had six rotten teeth. But of the approximately 5,500 dentists in the entire state, only about 900 accepted Medicaid. None of the children received routine dental care. By the time Deamonte complained, the infection in his tooth had spread to his brain. He was rushed to Children’s Hospital for emergency surgery and spent more than two weeks there. Then one night, he called his mother from his hospital room and told her, “Make sure you pray before you go to sleep.” In the morning, he was dead.