By PATRICK HOWARD
Capital News Service
LANSING – Recent federal approval of a dental care program’s expansion into four more West Michigan counties may be the start of a larger push to make dental care available to low-income children statewide. The Healthy Kids Dental Program, which provides free care for Medicaid recipients under age 21, has expanded its services into Muskegon, Mason, Newaygo and Oceana counties. Thomas Veryser, chief executive of Michigan Community Dental Clinics in Boyne City, said Muskegon County alone has 22,000 children covered by Medicaid and Oceana has 4,000 eligible for the program. Veryser said the recent expansion of the program is a sign of bigger things to come. He said Gov. Rick Snyder made it clear in his Health and Wellness address last September that the program was a success and could soon become a state-funded endeavor.