Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Federal Trade Commission Weighs In On Lousiana School Dental Practice Flap

Louisiana school dentist

Dr. Brandon Martin and Lyndsey Curtis work on a filling on one of six year old Timothey Bethley's teeth in the library of  Melrose Elementary School. The first grader was one of twenty students the dentist was seeing at the school. Photo Courtesy of The Advocate

Remember the Flap?

Now, the Feds are getting involved in this TURF WAR.
A proposal to outlaw school-based mobile dental clinics drew opposition Monday from the Federal Trade Commission, which calls the bill an anti-competitive measure that would reduce access to care for poor children.

House Bill 687 by Rep. Kevin Pearson, R-Slidell, which is scheduled for its first hearing Tuesday morning in the House Health and Welfare Committee, is aimed at curbing the growth of mobile dental clinics that provide services to children, most of whom are covered by Medicaid.

Supporters of the bill, which is being pushed by the Louisiana Dental Association, say dental care is best delivered in a "fixed, permanent" location such as a dentist's office, and that the growing trend of mobile clinics imperils the "lifelong relationship" between families and their dentist.

Office visits "ensure that what we have available to the under-served is full, comprehensive and quality care dentistry," said Ward Blackwell, executive director of the dental association.

But opponents, including the Louisiana Primary Care Association and the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, say that it would take away one of the few opportunities poor children enrolled in Medicaid have to receive dental care.

About 37 percent of Medicaid-eligible children in Louisiana have seen a dentist, according to the Department of Health and Hospitals. But the number of Louisiana dentists willing to see Medicaid patients has grown in recent years, as lawmakers have increased reimbursement rates.

A six-page letter from the FTC, the federal agency charged with policing anti-competitive practice, said there is no evidence that children are harmed from receiving services in school.

"We are concerned that if the proposed legislation becomes law, fewer students -- especially the indigent and economically disadvantaged -- will receive dental care," the agency wrote.
This is all well and good but since the Federal Trade Commission has no jurisdiction over the Louisiana Legislature or the Governor what is the practical effect, besides hot air?

None or very little.

More likely than not this bill will become law and the dentist, Gregory J. Folse, who owns this mobile service will be looking for other practices to purchase.

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1 comment:

  1. I really appreciate dentists. I am very scared of going to the dentist but I know it's for my own good, so I appreciate the work they do.