Dental Tribune USA

Advocacy group voices opposition to proposed legislation in North Carolina

By Dental Tribune America
June 14, 2012

RALEIGH, N.C., USA: The Alliance for Access to Dental Care, a trade and advocacy group committed to providing quality dental care, has announced the ongoing support from national and regional organizations in its efforts to prevent the passage of House Bill 698 (H.B. 698) and Senate Bill 655 (S.B. 655). If passed, H.B. 698 and S.B. 655 will change the way dentists work with dental service organizations (DSOs).

DSOs help manage the increasingly complex business aspects of running a dental practice, such as accounting, human resources and purchasing.

“This legislation has the power to drastically alter the dental landscape in North Carolina with no positive benefits for patients or dentists,” said Doug Brown, CEO of Affordable Care, a dental service organization founded in Kinston in 1975 and a member of the alliance. “It is unique to North Carolina, which already has the most restrictive laws in the nation governing the operation of dental practices. This bill needs to be stopped, because it will drive up costs and reduce access to care for more than 225,000 patients and put dentists at risk of closing their practices.”

Dr. Dan Taylor, an economist at Duke University, added, “Each year, North Carolinians pay around $280 million more for dental care than they would if dental fees were the same as those in other states. The supply of dentists in North Carolina is also lower than the national average, with North Carolina ranking 47th out of 50 states in dentists per 10,000 population, and this is the case in spite of the fact that the average salary of N.C. dentists is relatively high. This is the opposite of what I would expect.”

Due to the potential negative impact of this bill, several highly recognized organizations have officially declared their opposition to the legislation. Americans for Tax Reform, the John Locke Foundation, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, National Association of Dental Plans, Americans for Prosperity and the National Taxpayers Union are just a few of the organizations that have all spoken out against this legislation.

Here’s what else is being said about the legislation (H.B. 698 and S.B. 655) and the dental service organization/dental management model:

“By eliminating DMAs [dental management arrangements], those dentists promoting the legislation would effectively be removing a section of their competition from the marketplace and as a consequence, eliminating an important source of access to oral health care in the state of North Carolina,” said the National Association of Dental Plans.

“SB 655 would prohibit dental practices from contracting with Dental Service Organizations (DSOs), which allow dentists to focus exclusively on providing care, resulting in both high quality care and lower costs for patients,” said Americans for Tax Reform.

“We are concerned that the bill may deny consumers of dental services the benefits of competition spurred by the efficiencies that DSOs can offer, including the potential for lower prices, improved access to care, and greater choice,” said the Federal Trade Commission.

“States should implement administrative reforms to cut red tape that impedes dentists from delivering care and patients from receiving it,” said the American Dental Association (ADA).

Patients who receive care from DSOs are also speaking out against the bill and in favor of maintaining their access to quality care:

“Without Dental Works, I don’t know what we would have done, because my wife was sick, I want to say, for almost two years, and my boys love it there, and I love it there. If this bill passes, I don’t know what we’ll do, and I’m hoping that it doesn’t because we don’t want to change,” said Arthur Smith, a patient from Durham.

“I have been able to choose a dentist I trust, who treats me with respect. If this bill passes, people in North Carolina would have less choice, and that's a bad thing. This country was built on the freedom to choose,” said Barbara Jones, a patient from Carrboro.

The Alliance for Access to Dental Care is a trade and advocacy group in North Carolina. Its mission is to stop the proposed legislation.

(Source: Alliance for Access to Dental Care)


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