CHICAGO (July 26, 2013)—The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) today applauded a jointly issued U.S. Senate report that criticized large corporate dental practices that engage in deceptive overtreatment of patients.
The report, co-released on July 23 by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, is entitled “Joint Staff Report on the Corporate Practice of Dentistry in the Medicaid Program.”
The report says that the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) “should exclude from participating in the Medicaid program [Church Street Health Management], Small Smiles clinics, and any other corporate entity that employs a fundamentally deceptive business model resulting in a sustained pattern of substandard care.”
W. Carter Brown, DMD, FAGD, Academy of General Dentistry president-elect and chair of the AGD Corporate Dentistry Task Force, and AGD Immediate Past President Jeffrey M. Cole, DDS, MBA, FAGD, met with Grassley on this and other matters earlier this year. “We sincerely thank Sen. Grassley for meeting with us and for the efforts of his investigative team,” Dr. Brown says. “The AGD appreciates the opportunity to provide information and feedback.”
“We need to make sure that the care being provided to all dental patients is the best care available, that it is provided in a doctor-patient relationship so that the appropriate treatment for each patient can be determined,” says Dr. Brown. “This standard applies to solo or small group practices, school-based practices, even corporate practices—the goal of providing the best patient care should be the same.”
“The report is not a broad-brush discussion of all of the corporate models,” Dr. Brown says. “Rather, it offers an in-depth analysis that states may use to determine when business models, actions, or contractual agreements of dental management companies may not be providing the appropriate level of treatment planning, care, and oversight.”
Included in the report are discussions for improving the utilization of existing care by those who do not routinely seek care. The AGD does have concerns about one of the report’s conclusions concerning nondentists being used to provide dental treatment to underserved populations.
“The AGD fully supports efforts to empower the community to be active in its own health maintenance,” Dr. Brown says. “Dental disease is for the most part preventable, and when patients understand and participate in preventive and healthy behavior, the community’s overall health will improve. Data has shown that relying on treatment-based solutions does not create improved health outcomes for the community—only more fillings placed.”
In July 2012, the AGD released the white paper “Barriers and Solutions to Accessing Care,” delineating the barriers to care and proposing proven solutions for improving access to and utilization of care, including promoting oral health literacy, improving Medicaid administration, and utilizing patient navigators rather than nondentists who perform dentistry.
“The dental profession cannot implement prevention programs, oral health literacy, and other solutions without the support of our state and federal legislators, as well as the support of other organizations such as the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Pew Center on the States,” Dr. Brown says. “We at the AGD look forward to working with Sen. Grassley and others to improve oral health by advancing these solutions.”