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Governor gets plea to aid tooth repair

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Darla Ball, who has a hole in her tooth that the state's Medicaid program won't pay to fix, went to the governor's office Wednesday and asked him to "adopt" her.

The adoption idea is a last-ditch effort by disability and low-income advocates who are fed up with the governor's refusal to reinstate Medicaid funds for dental and vision care. The advocates — members of the Anti-Hunger Action Committee and the Disabled Rights Action Committee — want Gov. Mike Leavitt to either reinstate the funds or be the first Utahn to step up and pay for an individual Medicaid recipient's dental work or eyeglasses.

"The issue is that the governor has the money but he's not using it," says Bill Tibbitts, coordinator for the Anti-Hunger Action Committee. The money, $2.5 million, is part of the $41 million in Medicaid matching funds sent to Utah by the federal government as part of the economic stimulus bill passed by Congress earlier this year.

Instead, the money has been earmarked by the governor for other purposes, such as balancing the state's budget. As a result, 3-to-1 matching funds from the federal government have also been lost.

Richard Sorensen, from the governor's office of constituent affairs, told them his office would look into the issue.