RACHEL LEE EX REL. REBECCA LEE v. MARK EMKES, COMMISSIONER OF THE TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION (Tenn. Ct. App. June 28, 2011)
Petitioner, when she was thirteen years old, was having difficulty eating because of the position of her teeth, which also irritated her lips and cheeks. An orthodontist recommended braces to remedy the problem; however, the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration denied TennCare coverage for orthodontic braces.
Upon review by the Davidson County Chancery Court, the court found that the TennCare regulations impermissibly required both a Salzmann Index score of 28 and an abnormal dental development, i.e., a handicapping malocclusion, to qualify for orthodontic treatment, and that the Salzmann Index was an illegal utilization control because it nullified eligibility based upon an individualized review. The trial court also found that petitioner had not demonstrated a handicapping malocclusion, which is a valid utilization control under the regulations, therefore, she did not qualify for braces. Petitioner appealed.
We affirm the trial court's finding that the TennCare regulation in effect at the time impermissibly required a Salzmann Index score of at least 28 to qualify for orthodontic treatment. The record does, however, establish that an individualized assessment of Petitioner's condition to determine whether she had a handicapping malocclusion was conducted by a consulting dentist employed by the agency, which satisfies the federal requirements. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's decision to affirm the agency's denial of orthodontic braces.
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