by Jack Bragen
[dropcap]I[/dropcap] have a close relative who is losing all of his teeth because of the lack of available dentistry under Medi-Cal (with the exception of extractions). The policy of not covering dental was first enacted under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and now is the responsibility of Gov. Jerry Brown.
My relative is risking his health in order to retain one tooth — the last one he can use to chew food. A new lower class is being created before our eyes, one based on the ability to identify Medi-Cal recipients through their lack of teeth.
The lack of dental care is a merciless and corrupt instance of cruelty enacted by lawmakers who have no concept of the hardships being created for poor and lower income people. Poor people, statewide, are losing teeth because of the senseless disregard of lawmakers.
In the book 1984 by George Orwell, one scene stands out in which the villainous government agent reaches into the mouth of Winston Smith, the protagonist, and yanks out a tooth that was barely hanging on. This was after Smith had endured many months of being beaten, tortured, subjected to a pain-induction device, and brainwashed.
At the end of the book, the government officials gave Winston Smith a set of false teeth for his temporary reappearance in society, before making him disappear for good.
In the case of Medi-Cal benefits, false teeth aren’t covered. Being so poor that one’s poverty can be identified via the lack of teeth is one more way that people can be discriminated against.
We elected Gov. Brown in good faith because he promised to be a better governor than his opponent. Now it is incumbent upon him to show mercy by restoring dental benefits under Medi-Cal.