Tuesday, June 26, 2012

PBS Frontline Investigation: Dollars and Dentists to Air Tonight

From PBS: Frontline

From the press release:

Millions of Americans can’t afford a visit to the dentist and they live with pain and infection that can be life threatening. Privately backed corporate dental chains have stepped in to treat low-income adults and children on Medicaid, but their business models are under scrutiny. One model can lock adults low on cash into debt for expensive treatments they may not need. Another business serves children in poverty but has led to allegations of unnecessary treatments according to an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) and FRONTLINE.

The investigation found evidence that Kool Smiles, which specializes in treating low-income children, financially rewards dentists for generating high revenue and sometimes fires others who fail to meet production targets. One of the company’s most controversial practices is its heavy use of stainless steel crowns on baby teeth. The company is under scrutiny by federal and state officials for its practices. Kool Smiles denies that it exerts any influence on dentists to boost revenues and says it offers quality dental care to an underserved population neglected by traditional dental practices.

Aspen Dental is one of the largest for-profit chains aimed at adults who haven’t been to the dentist in years. A monthly report nicknamed the “game tape” scrutinizes the billings of every office each month. Former employees allege that patients are pushed to sign up for expensive treatments. New patients are commonly presented with dental plans costing thousands of dollars. Aspen’s CEO Bob Fontana says dentists make treatment decisions independent of any business goals.

This looks like an interesting investigation and mirrors some of the investigations by the media in Texas.

I probably won't be able to watch tonight due to previous commitments, but will catch the full video later and will report on it.

The abuses of Corporate Dentistry and Medicaid are well known throughout the dentistry profession and there are ongoing federal/state law enforcement investigations.

It will be interesting to see if this media investigation will be able to spur some reform in dentistry's darker side.

Stay tuned....

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