Trapped Between Gratitude and Medi-Cal

Dear Parents,

When I adopted my children 17 years ago, they came with a Medi-Cal card that was a gift from the state for my children, so they would always have care.  At the time I thought that was great, until the first time I used it.

I will never forget sitting in the clinic waiting room with nearly 20 other children and parents on a hot summer afternoon. There were no pictures on the walls. No magazines to read.  No little play tables to entertain the kids.  There was one loud window air conditioner with a string tied to the front grate, more limp than swaying in the cool air. We were wall to wall sweating, sick people.

After about an hour, my daughter’s name was called.  Whew, finally.  I started to stand up and the nurse motioned me to stay there.  She came over and, without asking me, lifted my three-year-old’s t-shirt and began to listen to her heart right there in the waiting room.

My little girl came home to me a victim of untold child abuses, abandonment, neglect, and who knows what else.  I was stunned.  My doctor down the street that I paid for with private insurance would never in a million years have violated me or my daughter that way.  Outraged, I told the nurse to cancel my appointment. I wouldn’t be back.  And I never went back to a Medi-Cal anything, until today.

Now it might be true that my experience in the past was not even close to indicative of other Medi-Cal services at the time and perhaps a lot has changed for the better in Medi-Cal since, but today did not fill me with confidence about that.  I sat in a Medi-Cal dental office for four hours for my son to get x-rays and an exam–no cleaning, no filling, no nothing else. I brought his dental records with me that had curent x-rays and a list of the work that was determined needed doing.

So here I am caught between grateful and Medi-Cal. I am grateful for the free dental care, but I ended up being really mad at my son for rarely brushing his teeth and costing me $5000.00 in dental costs at the non Medi-Cal dentist I took him to last month.

Whose problem is this?  Mine, but I can’t figure out the lesson.  Maybe the lesson is that I need to find some kind of forum to fight for equity in Medi-Cal services for our challenged children who insist on being resistant to doing anything parent ask, like teeth brushing.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,




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