The only thing worse than having dental problems is if your kid has dental problems. The only thing worse than your kid needing a dentist is if you are too poor to afford to see one. And the only thing worse than a poor kid needing to see a dentist is trial lawyers and the mainstream media (MSM) destroying a perfect solution to get that kid the care he needs. Toothache? Tough luck.
Low-income neighborhoods lack dentists because Medicaid and CHIP don’t reimburse these practitioners enough to make their businesses profitable. So just as you won’t find a BMW dealership in a low-income area, you won’t find your typical suburban dentist, and folks in low-income areas can’t travel miles and miles to find one. Thus, it’s no surprise that tooth decay rates in low-income areas are higher than in wealthier communities. That means a lot of kids are suffering from tooth decay and, without treatment, those conditions worsen.
While I am not a fan of government, in this case it did something right. Previously, Medicaid did not reimburse for children’s dental care. The 2009 reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program added it to the program.
But that didn’t solve the problem, because dentists still didn’t set up shop in poor neighborhoods, and didn’t travel to service them, either. That’s because the Medicaid reimbursement still wasn’t large enough to make it worth their while.
Fortunately, Dental Management Service Organizations (DMSOs) figured out a way to make it work, and they came to the rescue.
DMSOs are simply a bunch of private dental practices that get purchased by a company. That company finds ways to consolidate all these practices and create economies of scale, so that they can go into the poor neighborhoods and service kids. Their business model is efficient enough so that they can make enough money from Medicaid reimbursement to stay in business and even grow to be able to buy more practices and service more poor neighborhoods. Even better, dentists can be dentists. The DMSO handles all the business operations and paperwork and compliance issues. That saves the dentist a lot of labor, time, and money.
Where does a DMSO come up with all the money they need to buy those dental practices? From private equity (PE) funds, which consist of investment from wealthier individuals who seek a good return. As the DMSO profits, so does the PE fund and its investors.
Would you believe it? Government passes a policy, private enterprise finds a way to work within that policy, and people actually get helped!
Except somebody had to spoil it. Enter the trial lawyers.
Unfortunately, like every other business in every part of the world, there are some bad apples in the DMSO world. Just like the car salesman who convinces you to add that sunroof to your SUV, some dentists convince parents their kid needs a stainless steel crown. Or maybe a dentist operates without a license, like some home construction companies do. Or maybe they are fraudulently applying for Medicaid reimbursement.
But by no means are these activities widespread. They make up a statistically insignificant number of occurrences compared to the vast majority of DMSOs that do everything by the book, by the numbers, providing a standard of care above and beyond what’s required, all in the best interest of their patients.
Yet, in come the trial lawyers! These salivating, gluttonous opportunists gin up the media with anecdotal accounts of these bad apples to drive all DMSOs out of business, and collect massive settlement fees in return. As we know, the media loves stories about the few bad guys out there, but stories about the good eggs never get any play because it isn’t sensational or emotional. The MSM thrives on outrage.
The aptly-named law firm of Moriarty-Leyendecker rummages the internet landscape with its minions, gathering alleged DMSO victims like zombies hunting for brains. They pepper their website with frightening photos of scary dentist’s tools inside some poor little poppet’s mouth. They claim DMSOs are illegal when they are not, imply that the private equity firms are practicing dentistry when it is dentists that do so, insist that it is a terrible and evil thing for a PE fund to – GASP – profit from medical care, and provide alleged stories of child abuse at the hands of these evil corporate dentists!
Look, if true malpractice occurs, of course the perpetrator should face serious consequences. The problem is when mercenaries blow issues like this out of proportion. The result is a shakedown of DMSOs that consequently go out of business – harming kids who need dentists.
Family dentists also want to kill DMSOs. They fear that their regular patients may migrate to DMSOs for less expensive care. So the American Dental Association tries to regulate DMSOs out of business, by claiming the PE fund that owns the DMSO is actually making the care decisions, which is utterly false.
These family dentist shops are more interested in their own profits than poor kids getting the care they need. Even the Federal Trade Commission has asked that legislation pending in North Carolina not be implemented because it will harm kids!
Enter the nutty activist. There’s always one, isn’t there? Debbie Hagan is a Kentucky resident who took an incident that happened to her grandson and “vowed to do whatever it took to expose this horrific, unacceptable ‘child abuse for profit’ scheme and Dentist The Menace, the blog, was born”.
Hey, I get it. If someone close to you suffers a bad experience, I’d be pissed, too. Unfortunately, Ms. Hagan appears to have extrapolated this one experience, and sought out confirmation bias so she could wage a misguided assault on the entire DMSO industry.
Yet, by her own admission, the blog, “…is hurriedly done and only minimally checked for errors…. Authors makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use [.]”
In other words, in between fits of hysteria, Ms. Hagan doesn’t care whom she hurts while carrying out her vendetta. DMSOs, honest dentists, dental employees, kids – they’re just blood sacrifices to give fodder to the scumbag mercenaries and MSM in order to destroy any DMSO that provides care to poor kids.
And The Media eats it up.
Private equity involved? Then it must be evil.
Profit involved? Then it must be evil.
Mainstream media reporting on it? Then it must be widespread and evil.
And so it goes. What would a real journalist do? He would seek out the facts and present a balanced story. He would point out that, besides some wonderful philanthropic efforts, the DMSO movement is the only proven method that allows poor kids to get dental care via Medicaid. He would point out that this is the perfect synergy of government policy and private enterprise that ends up helping millions of kids. He would acknowledge that some bad apples exist, but that reasonable regulation and industry-set standards and practices would remove those threats. He’d make the point that increasing Medicaid reimbursement is not only an unnecessary taxpayer burden given the PE funding, but that the US doesn’t have the money for it. He’d point out that if you remove an option, demand does not vanish. Instead, it forces people to more expensive options. And the whole reasons DMSOs appeared in the first place was to provide an affordable option to low-income people.
But that journalist doesn’t exist in the mainstream media. I have to do that job for them.
No, the mainstream media covers the story, but only the sensational aspects involving the bad apples. For example, here comes Frontline, where they’ll say God-only-knows-what.
The bottom line? Write to these trial lawyers, competitors, nutball activists and the water-carrying media, and tell them they are destroying the ability of low-income kids to get the dental care they need and cannot otherwise afford.