Who could deny dental benefits to the poor?
Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott for one.
Scott vetoed legislation in April that would have supported poor Floridians in getting dental care. The reason? “It holds too much potential for abuse of public dollars,” said Scott.
The Florida House Bill, HB139, was sponsored by Rep. Travis Cummings and had passed, unanimously, through both bodies in the 2016 Legislative Session.
HB139 was designed to create a grant aimed at dentists who serve patients in counties with a shortage of dentists. The grants, which would have ranged from $10,000 to $100,000, would have been managed by the state’s Department of Health.
While signing the veto, Scott claimed to agree that maintaining good dental health was integral to the health of Florida families. However, he could not support a program which didn’t place “appropriate safeguards” on taxpayer investments.
Scott also claimed the bill was “duplicative of existing programs.”
“Pediatric dental benefits are provided to Medicaid recipients through the Medicaid Managed Care Program,” Scott said. “The vast majority of County Health Departments already provide Florida families access to dental services.”
A spokesman for the Florida Dental Association described the group as “disappointed.”
“The challenges of obtaining regular dental care have impacted the health of Florida communities,” said Joe Anne Hart, the FDA’s Director of Government Affairs. “The bill’s veto means repeated visits to the emergency room, more dental problems and missed days of school due to oral health issues.”
“We will continue to advocate for policies and programs to improve dental health for all Floridians,” said Hart.
Scott’s veto of the bill was a surprise to many observers: this was just the second bill he has vetoed this year.