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Deamonte Driver

Deamonte Driver, died at the age of 12, Prince George's County, Maryland: Deamonte Driver, a seventh grader in Prince George's County, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., died because he couldn’t find a dentist who would accept Medicaid and his mother couldn't afford an $80 tooth extraction. The inexcusable loss of this 12-year-old's life started when he complained of a toothache. His mother, Alyce, who works at low-paying jobs, had been focused on finding a dentist to see Deamonte’s brother, who had six rotting teeth, when Deamonte began complaining of pain.

After an unsuccessful search for a dentist who would accept Medicaid, Alyce took Deamonte to a hospital emergency room where he was given medicine for a headache, sinusitis and dental abscess and then sent home. But his condition soon took a turn for the worse, and he was back at the hospital being rushed to surgery where it was discovered that the bacteria from his abscessed tooth had spread to his brain. Heroic efforts were made to save him, including two operations and eight weeks of additional care and therapy, totaling about $250,000. Unfortunately, it was all too late. He died on February 25. The outrage is that Deamonte’s life could have been saved by a routine dental visit and an inexpensive extraction, if only Medicaid’s reimbursement rates to providers weren’t so low, causing Medicaid providers to be extremely scarce.