Saturday, December 16, 2017
Health

Man stuck with ill-fitting dentures after dentist's arrest on Medicaid fraud charges

HUDSON — In December, 72-year-old James Reynolds had all his teeth pulled out on the advice of Miranda Smith, a Spring Hill dentist recently arrested on fraud charges.

When he went for his dentures, they didn't even fit. When he wore them, they hurt. He went back "half a dozen" times, he said, but didn't get relief.

He found out about Smith's arrest on TV.

What about my dentures? he thought.

Reynolds' story echoed others in a 21-page affidavit charging Smith, 46, with more than $140,000 in Medicaid fraud and detailing multiple horror stories at her Smiles and Giggles Dentistry at 17020 County Line Road.

Smith's license was previously suspended but recently reinstated. No one could be reached at the Florida Department of Health for the details of the renewal. Smith's husband, Donald, said the practice was reopened for business this month.

Smith's criminal case is proceeding, though no hearings have been set.

Reynolds lives alone in a modest home in Hudson. He lives strictly off Social Security, he said, and has about $50 left every month after he pays his bills.

With sores in his mouth from the ill-fitting teeth, he tried calling Smith's office, but he got no answer. He visited the building and was greeted by a sign that said the practice was closed "TEMPORARILY until further notice," due to an administrative decision.

Reynolds, who has Medicare and Medicaid insurance plans through Simply Healthcare, finally went to another dentist.

"They told me, 'Those dentures are too big for your mouth, and they're made incorrectly,' " he said.

But when he tried to get new ones, he was denied because he's eligible for only one pair every five years.

Betsy Henao, senior director of corporate marketing at Simply Healthcare, said Smith is no longer a doctor on the plan. The company had received Reynolds' appeal for new teeth, she said.

In the meantime, he has been eating nothing but mushy food — "gummin' the heck out of stuff," he said.

"Right now I'm living on TV dinners," he said. "All I want is a regular diet."

He heard the good news on Friday: He was approved for a new set of dentures.

When asked what his first meal would be with his new teeth, he said: "It's going to be something besides soft food, I can guarantee you that."

Contact Jon Silman at (727) 869-6229, j[email protected] or @Jonsilman1 on Twitter.

Comments
Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Shrieks of laughter echoed off the walls of the hospital as Thunder the mini pig flopped onto his side and the children huddled around him, scratching his pink, hairy belly. He and his wet-nosed partner, Bolt, drew patients in wheelchairs and bandage...
Published: 12/15/17
Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Today is the day that open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act will close for most people. But those affected by the slew of hurricanes that pummelled Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and other states earlier this year can take advantage of a two-week ...
Published: 12/15/17
City Council sinks deal to alter ownership of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg

City Council sinks deal to alter ownership of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — After months of tense negotiations and weeks of political impasse, the City Council on Thursday derailed a proposal that would have changed the ownership structure of the city’s largest hospital, Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.The 5-...
Published: 12/14/17
Florida hospitals call for more funding in effort to address looming doctor shortage

Florida hospitals call for more funding in effort to address looming doctor shortage

The number of doctors practicing in Florida has not kept up with the state’s surging population growth, and more money is needed to recruit and keep them here, hospital leaders said Wednesday.The shortage is particularly acute in four speciality area...
Published: 12/13/17
An overlooked epidemic: Older Americans taking too many unneeded drugs

An overlooked epidemic: Older Americans taking too many unneeded drugs

Consider it America’s other prescription drug epidemic.For decades, experts have warned that older Americans are taking too many unnecessary drugs, often prescribed by multiple doctors, for dubious or unknown reasons. Researchers estimate that 25 per...
Published: 12/13/17
How is Florida’s health? Not so great, report says

How is Florida’s health? Not so great, report says

Florida slightly improved its national standing this year, rising from 36th to 32nd overall in the annual America’s Health Rankings report. But the takeaway for the nation’s third-largest state is that it has a long way to go in many important health...
Published: 12/12/17
Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

The floor-to-ceiling glass windows are heavily tinted and the inside is hidden behind rows of curtains. Security cameras monitor every corner, and only patients with an appointment and valid identification can pass through the intentionally cramped e...
Published: 12/12/17
Video: Jimmy Kimmel holds his baby son, post-heart surgery, in emotional health-care monologue

Video: Jimmy Kimmel holds his baby son, post-heart surgery, in emotional health-care monologue

Jimmy Kimmel was absent from his ABC late-night show last week while his 8-month-old son, Billy, recovered from his second heart surgery. Ever since Billy was born with a heart defect and required immediate surgery, Kimmel has become an outspoken adv...
Published: 12/12/17
Record numbers are signing up for Obamacare in Florida as enrollment period draws to a close

Record numbers are signing up for Obamacare in Florida as enrollment period draws to a close

With just four days left to enroll for health insurance on the federal exchange, advocates for the Affordable Care Act say Florida is headed for a record-breaking year. In week five of the six-week open enrollment period, about 823,180 people signed ...
Published: 12/12/17
A boy shares the pain of being bullied - inspiring thousands to show him love (w/video)

A boy shares the pain of being bullied - inspiring thousands to show him love (w/video)

While fighting back tears, young Keaton Jones couldn’t stop asking one question: Why?"Just out of curiosity, why do they bully? What’s the point of it?" he asks his mother while in the passenger seat of a parked car. "Why do you find joy in taking in...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17