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  1. 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, or @Jonsilman1 on Twitter.