The Easterseals dental clinic in Manchester will close at the end of the year, and has stopped seeing new patients.

The clinic opened in 2008, and has focused on serving people who might struggle to pay for dental care. Nancy Rollins, chief financial officer of Easterseals, said the clinic has been losing around $300,000 each year for the last several years, despite support from local philanthropies.

Since March, because of COVID restrictions, Rollins said the clinic has only been seeing patients who need emergency care.

Fewer than 2% of the clinic’s patients had commercial insurance, Rollins said, and about 28% used Medicaid, the insurance program for the poor and disabled. Most Medicaid patients were children, who have dental coverage through Medicaid, and adults needing emergency services like tooth extraction. The rest pay for care out of pocket, Rollins said.

The state legislature passed a bill earlier this year that would have added a dental benefit for adults on Medicaid. Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed the bill in July, saying the state’s budget was too precarious.

Rollins said the measure could have helped the clinic stay open by ensuring more services were paid for.

Easterseals is talking about a partnership with another entity, Rollins said, in an effort to open a dental clinic again. But she said Easterseals leaders thought it was best to close the clinic at the end of December, and let their staff find other jobs in case those negotiations drag on.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Tuesday, October 20, 2020