Don’t Deny Autistic Child Necessary Dental Care

Autism Awareness

Target: Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Andy Slavitt

Goal: Don’t deny dental coverage for autistic child with shattered front teeth.

An autistic 12-year-old is being denied care after shattering his front teeth, making it difficult for him to eat and speak. Though he’s eligible for Medicaid coverage because he and his single mother live in poverty, the service is refusing to pay to replace Cole Beardsley’s teeth because they consider the front ones to be “cosmetic.”

Due to the fact that Cole has rather severe autism, it’s extremely difficult for him to get used to new things or handle the feel of something like a tag in a shirt. It’s therefore impossible for him to handle something like partial dentures, which Medicaid will cover for him. He also already has a lot of trouble speaking and has only recently begun to learn, but the broken front teeth are making it harder because of how painful they are. Because of his autism, this kind of discouragement could cause him to give up learning to talk altogether.

Cole would also need to be completely sedated in order to be fitted for the crowns he needs, which makes the procedure far too expensive for his single mother, who is currently on disability for a work injury, to afford. Without the help of a program which is supposed to act as a safety net, Cole will have to live in constant pain that will make his life even more difficult than it already is.

Cole’s mother has set up a fundraiser for her child, but she shouldn’t have to count on that. Medicaid needs to recognize that autistic people have different needs and be willing to accommodate that. By signing this petition, you’ll demand that Medicaid reverse its decision to deny care to Cole and work to understand the needs of those on the autism spectrum.


Dear Mr. Slavitt,

Recently, a 12-year-old autistic boy was denied Medicaid coverage for his shattered front teeth on the basis that these teeth are somehow “cosmetic” rather than necessary. Though he needs crowns because his autism makes it nearly impossible for him to handle odd new sensations like partial dentures, you refuse to pay for them. He’s currently suffering through the pain of extremely sensitive broken teeth, which is making it hard for him to eat and speak.

Cole is only just now learning to speak because of his severe autism, and the pain of broken teeth may cause him to give up trying. Your refusal to help this child could already be having a negative impact on the rest of his life. You need to understand that autistic individuals have different needs than non-autistic people, and therefore some treatment options are unreasonable for them even if they would work for others.

Cole needs crowns for his teeth. As a healthcare program, you should have a basic understanding of the needs of autistic people. I urge you to reverse the decision to deny coverage for fixing his teeth and also to update your coverage policies to better fit those who have different needs than the majority of the population. Health care is never one-size fits all. Please show compassion to Cole and all autistic people.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: via Flickr

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One Comment

  1. KatWrangler says:

    Cosmetic? I’d like to see the person/people who decided this was a cosmetic procedure, and knock their teeth out. See how fast they get their mouths fixed.

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