Dental Care Reform: Senate To Require Dental Veneers

Cosmetic Dentistry USA: dental veneers for all AmericansIn an unexpected bipartisan move, Democratic and Republican senators will announce on April 1st that they will supplement the health care reform bill with a comprehensive reform of dental care in the USA.

“Americans are typically considered to have perfect teeth,” said Senator McGrin (R-CA) at a press conference Tuesday. “What is at stake is nothing less than our country’s international reputation.”

“We will do whatever it takes to stay #1 in the world,” agreed Senator Smilestein (D-NY), also speaking at the press conference. “Our plan will guarantee dental veneers for every man, woman and child in the US.”

Under the proposed plan, dental veneers would become mandatory for all Americans in 2014.

Well-known for having a perfect smile himself, President Barack Obama is expected to support the bill.

Cosmetic dentistry is a right!” declared Sen. McGrin. “For too long, dental makeovers have been limited to those who can afford them. It’s simply not fair. Mandatory veneers will level the playing field, teeth-wise.”

Those who have had braces or who have naturally perfect teeth may be able to apply for a special waiver. However, these individuals would be required to undergo yearly exams from a cosmetic dentist. At the first sign of decay or yellow teeth, porcelain veneers would be immediately required.

But not everyone is thrilled with the new legislation. In fact, Tea Party conservatives and ACLU liberals have joined forces to protest the bill. “Requiring cosmetic dentistry is un-American,” declared Glenn Beck of Fox News. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I completely agree with Glenn Beck,” replied the president of the ACLU.

“Who is going to pay for universal cosmetic dentistry?” asked Beck. “The Congressional Budget Office has projected that mandatory veneers or lumineers for all Americans will cost the country half a trillion dollars over the next five years. High-income Americans are taxed enough already. And don’t think that higher taxes to pay for this will be limited to people in the upper income brackets. You’re going to see tax increases for middle-income Americans also, if this goes through.”

While the National Dental Organization supports the measure, opponents have loudly challenged the measure. “What’s next?!? Dental implants and dentures for children? Braces for seniors?” demanded one protester. “Why should fat-cat dentists get a special break?”

James Du Molin, president of dental website TheWealthyDentist.com, replied, “Dentists, like other small business owners, are the backbone of our economy. Why are we bailing out banks and other megacorporations? It’s small businesses, like the privately-owned dental office, that create 80% of the new jobs in America.”

Overall, Senators McGrin and Smilestein remain unfazed. “Government-sponsored veneers are the perfect blend of socialism and capitalism,” said Sen. Smilestein. “We’re confident that this solution will satisfy everyone… and cement America’s position of having the best-looking teeth in the world!”

Orthodontic Braces: Taxpayers Spent $424 Million for Children in Texas

Orthodontic Braces: Taxpayers Spent $424 Million for Children in TexasIn June of this year, The Wealthy Dentist published a story about Taxpayers footing the bill for orthodontic braces in Texas.

In Texas, Medicaid pays dentists for orthodontics per procedure, instead of a lump sum for the “finished mouth” of straight teeth.

This has made Medicaid orthodontia a lucrative dental business in Texas.

WFAA-TV of Texas has been investigating this story for the last six months and has uncovered hundreds of millions of dollars of questionable Medicaid spending on dental braces for children in Texas. Their news reports prompted federal investigators to now audit the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which controls the Medicaid funds.

According to the WFAA website –

In a letter to the state, the Inspector General says it will examine the “authorization process for orthodontic treatment” under Texas Medicaid. “The objective of our audit,” the letter continues, “is to review the State’s controls to ensure that only medically necessary orthodontic cases are paid.” The time period covered by the audit is September 1, 2008 through May 28, 2011.

The new station’s investigation revealed that during that period, Texas taxpayers spent $424 million on orthodontic braces for children under Medicaid. Taxpayers spent $100 million in 2008, $140 million in 2009, and $184 million in 2010, state records show.

Texas dentist, Dr. Christine Ellis, who teaches at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has twice traveled to Washington in an attempt to convince lawmakers to scale back Texas Medicaid orthodontics payments and divert funds for more pressing dental needs.

Her attempts fell on deaf ears. According to the WFAA-TV article, Ellis said, “There’s no response. No one is putting the brakes on this thing.”

Billy Millwee of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission is now telling WFAA-TV that if taxpayers money has been lost, the Attorney General might take action to get it back. He went on to say that Texas will have a new managed care Medicaid dental program beginning next spring.

For more on this story see: Feds Investigate Texas Dental Medicaid Program and Taxpayers Footing the Bill for Braces in Texas.

Dental Insurance and Obama Care: Who’s Right?

Dental Insurance and Obama CareThe National Journal is reporting that the National Association of Dental Plans is spending more than $1 million on a campaign to change a provision in the health care law that they feel will require some people to buy duplicate dental insurance coverage.

Let me repeat…The dental benefits trade organization is spending $1,000,0000 to hire a lobbying firm to convince the Obama administration to fix the provision by the end of 2011.

Is this a good thing? Click here for a 92-page white paper “Road Map” with Delta Dental as a co-sponsor.

The NADP is concerned that, starting in 2014, the almost 44 million people who receive pediatric dental coverage through small business employers will also have to buy coverage through the new health insurance exchanges. It is asking regulators to clarify that their existing coverage meets the law’s requirements.

“Truthfully, this is the No. 1 issue for our industry,” said NADP executive director Evelyn Ireland. “It is the most crucial thing for us to get done.”

NADP wants to ensure that people will be allowed to keep their existing dental insurance coverage under the new health care, a promise President Obama repeatedly made during the heath insurance reform debate.

For a multitude of reasons I have never been a big fan of Delta Dental. However, after reviewing the 92-page white paper I think there may be some merit to this $1,000,000 argument.

Before, I make up my mind, I would like some pro or con feedback from our readers.

Please post your comments below.

Science Friday: Dentists Could Play a Greater Role in Providing Healthcare

Science Friday Dentists Could Play a Greater Role in Providing HealthcareA New York University College of Dentistry study has concluded that dentists could screen at least 20 million Americans for hypertension, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, was conducted by a nursing-dental research team at NYU, and is the first of its kind to determine that nearly 20 million Americans annually visit a dentist but not a general healthcare provider.

The research findings give credence to the idea that dentists can play a crucial role as health care practitioners in identifying diseases which would otherwise go undetected in a significant portion of the population.

In the report, Dr. Shiela Strauss is quoted as saying, “For these and other individuals, dental professionals are in a key position to assess and detect oral signs and symptoms of systemic health disorders that may otherwise go unnoticed, and to refer patients for follow-up care.” She is the associate professor of nursing at the NYU College of Nursing and co-director of the statistics and data management core for NYU’s Colleges of Nursing and Dentistry.

During the course of a routine dental examination, dentists and dental hygienists, as trained healthcare providers, could be taking their dental patient’s health history, checking blood pressure, and using direct clinical observation and X-rays to detect risk for certain diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes,  and heart disease.

What do you think? Would you like to see dentists and dental hygienists play a greater role in providing healthcare screenings for serious medical conditions?

California Dental Clinic Controversy: Return State Payments for Dental Care

California Dental Clinic Controversy: Return State Payments for Dental CareCalifornia Watch, the Center for Investigative Reporting has published a report that California’s health program for the needy is approaching the state’s dental clinics with a controversial request: Send back those checks for root canals, tooth extractions and other dental services rendered within the last year.

This is a heads up to all dental providers across the county. As states near bankruptcy, they will do everything in their power to raid healthcare benefits.

This all started when past California state Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and law makers approved a state budget that eliminated all non-emergency dental care in the state Medi-Cal program.

The California dental clinics retaliated by suing the state because they felt the state did not follow the correct legal procedures in making the cuts to the state dental program. A federal judge blocked the Medi-Cal cuts from taking effect and California appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In May of this year, the state of California met all the legal requirements to implement the cuts and won the right to eliminate all non-emergency dental care. Now the state of California wants back the reimbursements paid to clinics during the temporary reinstatement period from October 2010 – May 2011.

According to California Watch, Norman Williams, spokesman for the Department of Health Care Services, said in an e-mail that providers were warned during the court-order period that they may have to send back the money.

Jennette Lawrence Shea, director of government and community relations for Family Health Centers of San Diego told California Watch that their clinics provided 5,300 dental visits from October to May at sites throughout San Diego County and expects to be on the hook for about $850,000.

Dental clinics state-wide are bracing for the bills to arrive from the state —

What are your thoughts? Do you think dentists should have to repay the stat of California for the dental treatments they provided during the reinstatement period?

For more on this story see: State asking clinics to send back payments for dental care

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