If there’s an opportunity for the MSM to demonize private enterprise, you can bet they’ll jump on it. That’s certainly been the case with Dental Service Organizations, such as Kool Smiles. These are groups of private dental practices aggregated under one entity, which handles all the administrative operations, freeing up dentists to be dentists, rather than paper-pushers. It also drastically cuts dentists’ office costs. The savings allow dentists to treat kids in low-income neighborhoods under Medicaid reimbursement, which otherwise wouldn’t provide enough revenue to make the treatment cost effective.
This innovative solution to bringing dental care where it previously didn’t exist should have been lauded by the media. Instead it gets assaulted because profit is involved.
The most egregious example was the recent hatchet job on PBS’ Frontline, a so-called special investigative project in cooperation with the liberally-biased Center for Public Integrity. I presented evidence of the show’s bias, and even forwarded it to PBS’s ombudsman, Michael Getler. He replied that the show was “fair,” and his subsequent report failed to mention any of the bias issues I raised. So much for “fairness” from the Ombudsman. At least PBS’s website allowed Kool Smiles a response.
Another disturbing trend is bias leaking into the columns of financial reporters, a group you’d think would be above reproach. Sydney P. Freedberg of Bloomberg writes a lot about the financial side of the DSO business, and reiterates all the same allegations, but doesn’t bother to balance her story with the positive aspects of the model. This is disconcerting considering Ms. Freedberg is an otherwise accomplished Pulitzer Prize winner.
And of course, there’s always the hysterical and shrill blogger who sees conspiracy around every corner.
In the face of this media bias comes proof the model is more cost effective than independent dentistry provides for, and that allegations of unnecessary treatments have no basis. A study conducted by Dr. Arthur B. Laffer – he of the famous “Laffer Curve” – concluded, “we find totally untrue… that DSOs, due to the need to generate a return for their shareholders, push their dentists to perform unnecessary procedures and higher cost procedures in order to generate additional reimbursement revenue from Medicaid.”
The review of almost 26 million procedures in Texas in 2011 showed that DSO dentists performed between 18% and 33% fewer procedures than their non-DSO counterparts, and charged an average of 36% less. In addition, “Dentists at DSO clinics also billed Medicaid less per patient than other dentists for those procedures that could indicate the presence of fraud or mistreatment, such as tooth extractions, pulpotomies (removal of infected tooth pulp), and crowns.”
Not only does this utterly debunk Frontline‘s narrative, but it exposes why Frontline should be ashamed of the program, why Mr. Getler needs to take another look at the show, and why you should be suspicious of the Center for Public Integrity (beyond having merged with the Huffington Post). Mr. Laffer asked to examine the data sets Frontline used to draw its conclusions so that his study could either corroborate or reject CPI’s claims. Look at the rather brusque and defensive reply from “Senior Reporter” David Heath at the CPI:
“We have discussed your request with the top editors. We don’t know who you are working for or what you’ve been hired to do. In any case we don’t give out our unpublished work product.”
My, my! This is an interesting response considering that section 1.02 of the CPI’s bylaws states, “The corporation is designed for the charitable and educational purposes of bringing a higher standard of integrity to the American political process and to government by informing and educating the public about critical issues of integrity.” [emphasis added]
Before being overcome with laughter at this hypocrisy, read on.
In its FAQ section, the CPI states, “The Center’s mission is to produce original investigative journalism about significant public issues to make institutional power more transparent and accountable.”
Oh, the irony. CPI is comfortable being the self-appointed arbiter of integrity involving others, but when it’s own integrity is challenged, and when asked to be transparent and accountable, it clams up.
There has been more than ample vindication for companies operating under the DSO model, such as Kool Smiles. Children are being helped. Healthcare is being brought to communities that have been left behind. A problem has been solved in a unique way.
But here’s the insidious and disgraceful takeaway. The liberal narrative in this country is that only government can solve the healthcare crisis, yet when private enterprise figures out a way to work in partnership with an established government program, the liberal media has to spoil it. The media would rather take dental care away from children – even those in pain – to support an ideology.
Liberals don’t actually care about solving problems or helping kids. They only care about putting everyone under the thumb of big government.