NAMPA -- Many of the budget cuts passed this year in the legislature will go into effect July 1st. One of the areas taking a big hit is Medicaid and preventative dental care.

The Department of Health and Welfare had to cut $97 million dollars to balance their budget.

The cut to preventative dental care was just one way to manage, but one dentist is worried the state's plan to save money could end up costing them more in the long run, while many who rely on the service are left wondering what they'll do now.

I was angry, honestly, said Gina Branham.

A few months ago Gina Branham received a letter saying as of July 1st, her Medicaid benefits for dental care would be cut.

When you get something saying we're not going to help you, you worry about what's going to happen, said Branham.

Branham is not alone. She is one of an estimated 42,000 Idahoans who will have their dental benefits taken away. This stems from cuts lawmakers had to make to balance the health and welfare budget.

The legislature and us, we worked together to minimize the harm that would occur to people. This was one of those cuts that was difficult, but had to be made, said Tom Shanahan, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Beginning July 1st regular, preventative dental check-ups will be stripped away for adults. Only pregnant women, those under 21 and those who have emergency cases will receive care under Medicaid.

Dr. Wade Pilling has about 4,000 patients on Medicaid. He says his practice will survive but, he's worried about his patients health.

Preventative work is important because if we don't stop things like gum disease, cavities things like that, [they] will eventually lead to bigger problems, not just with your teeth but with overall health problems, said Pilling.

Pilling says he's worried the state's plan to save money could backfire.

If we invest in preventative work the cost is much less to the state than opposed to investing in fixing problems when they get bad, and that's why preventative work is so important, and they've eliminated that in adults, said Pilling.

The dental cuts now have Gina Branham worried about the future. Am I going to be able to get help? You know it's a worry all the time, constant worry, she said.

The Department of Health and Welfare estimates the cut to the dental care will save a total of $5.6 million dollars.

Pilling says since his Medicaid patients have learned about the cuts they have been trying to schedule appointments. Unfortunately, he says many won't be able to get into see a dentist before July 1st.

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