A Senate report from the Committee on Finance recommends that dental chains should no longer be allowed to receive Medicaid payments. The Senate report named a few chains specifically, but also noted that Medicaid payments should not be allowed for “any other corporate entity that employs a fundamentally deceptive business model resulting in a sustained pattern of substandard care.”
Allegations of Substandard, Fraudulent Care
There are many stories contained in the 1500-page Senate report about the types of dental treatments people receive at corporate dentist practices, but they all boil down to one principle: people are given treatment plans that include numerous treatments they do not need, loaded with unnecessary extras that escalate the cost of treatment. This includes recommending that patients have teeth pulled that could be saved, not giving patients the information they need to choose between dental implants and dentures, and slipping items like a $150 electric toothbrush into a patient’s bag without their knowledge or consent.
Chains Not Owned By Dentists
Requiring that dental practices be owned by dentists was part of the drive to ensure that only qualified and licensed individuals provided dental care. Although these state laws were challenged repeatedly, the Supreme Court held that states had the right to prevent corporations from providing dental and medical care because corporations could not be certified as dentists, and that corporate ownership represented a threat to the licensing standard, “The statutes would be completely avoided and rendered nugatory, if one or more persons, who failed to have the requisite learning to pass the examination, might nevertheless incorporate themselves formally into a corporation in whose name they could practice lawfully the profession which was forbidden to them as individuals.” (Isles Wellness Inc. v Progressive Northern Ins. Co. 703 N.W. 2d 513, 517-518 (Minn. 2005) (Quoting State v. Bailey Dental Co. 234 N.W. 260,262 (Iowa 1931)).
Essentially, the Senate report contends, this is what has come to pass in large dental chains owned by private equity firms. According to Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking member on the Committee, “The problem is tied to a business model that contradicts state laws requiring dental practices to be dentist-owned as a measure of accountability both to patients and taxpayers.”
Personal Dental Care
At Smile Columbia Dentistry, we are as personal a dental chain as they come. With nearly forty years in dental practice here in Columbia, SC, Dr. Paul Hahn has made a lifetime out of dedicating himself to providing personal care for all his patients. And that is how he brought up his son, Dr. Adam Hahn. We can’t speak to the way other dentists choose to practice, but as for us in our practice, we dedicate ourselves to quality, appropriate dental care for every patient.