Johnny Escobedo of Selma has 12 or 13 teeth in his mouth.
With help from Medi-Cal, the 64-year-old disabled maintenance worker had several teeth pulled this summer in anticipation of getting dentures.
But now his smile is in limbo: Medi-Cal changed its rules, and the state no longer will pay for his false teeth.
He can't afford the $1,500 to $2,000 it would take to get some. "I don't know what to do," he said.
Health advocates for the poor say thousands of people in the San Joaquin Valley are going without dental care or are struggling to pay for it since the state cut Medi-Cal dental benefits for most adults in July.
The cuts also are hurting community health centers and hospitals that provide dental services to low-income patients, as well as those dentists in private practice who were willing to take low Medi-Cal payments.
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