Isaac Gagnon stepped off the school bus sobbing last October and opened his mouth to show his mother where it hurt.
She saw steel crowns on two of the 4-year-old’s back teeth. A dentist’s statement in his backpack showed he had received two pulpotomies, or baby root canals, along with the crowns and 10 X-rays — all while he was at school. Isaac, who suffers from seizures from a brain injury in infancy, didn’t need the work, according to his mother, Stacey Gagnon.
“I was absolutely horrified,” said Gagnon, of Camp Verde, Arizona. “I never gave them permission to drill into my son’s mouth. They did it for profit.”
Isaac’s case and others like it are under scrutiny by federal lawmakers and state regulators trying to determine whether a popular business model fueled by Wall Street money is soaking taxpayers and having a malign influence on dentistry.
Isaac’s dentist was dispatched to his school by ReachOut Healthcare America, a dental management services company that’s in the portfolio of Morgan Stanley Private Equity, operates in 22 states and has dealt with 1.5 million patients. Management companies are at the center of a U.S. Senate inquiry, and audits, investigations and civil actions in six states over allegations of unnecessary procedures, low-quality treatment and the unlicensed practice of dentistry.
Allegations like Gagnon’s “are not representative” of the more than 500 cases handled by ReachOut affiliates in Isaac’s school district, said Mickey Mandelbaum, a company spokesman.
ReachOut is one of at least 25 dental management-services companies bought or backed by private-equity firms in the last decade. Dentists contract with the companies for marketing, scheduling, staff recruitment, supplies and other services. The companies account for about 12,000, or 8 percent, of U.S. dentists, according to Thomas A. Climo, a Las Vegas dental consultant.
Some of them have been riding a boom in Medicaid outlays on dentistry, which rose 63 percent to $7.4 billion between 2007 and 2010, outstripping the 4.9 percent growth in other dental spending. ReachOut and several of its private equity-backed rivals seek patients like Isaac Gagnon, who are covered by Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor and disabled.
On May 2, All Smiles Dental Center Inc., a management company owned by Chicago-based Valor Equity Partners, filed for bankruptcy protection. Its hand was forced in part by a Texas Medicaid action cutting off payment to some of its clinics because of allegedly “excessive” and “inappropriate” orthodontic care, according to an All Smiles executive’s affidavit included in the filing. All Smiles was part of a state audit in which 90 percent of Medicaid claims for orthodontic braces were found to be invalid because they weren’t medically needed, according to Christine Ellis, one of the auditors.
He kicked and screamed while several adults held him on the dental table, according to another teacher’s aide, Stephanie Shultz. “The dentist man got me,” Gagnon remembers her son saying.
Further proof that health care and dental care are INCOMPATIBLE with a for profit economic system.
- thedailydoodles likes this
- skyghe reblogged this from determinatenegation
- neverthegreyer likes this
- hopesanddreamsofapen likes this
- billyxransom reblogged this from mechanistdreams and added:
- mechanistdreams reblogged this from determinatenegation and added:
- dreamstates likes this
- determinatenegation posted this