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Letters: Response to Aspen letter

November 06, 2017

I believe the distortions and misrepresentations proffered by Aspen Dental Management, Inc. from Dr. Arwinder Judge (Letters, Oct. 2 ADA News), need to be addressed. First, Aspen Dental has a very troubling history, in my opinion. This dental service organization has signed settlement agreements with four different state attorneys general — Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York and Indiana — which include very serious alleged abuses to the public.1-4 The 2013, "U.S. Senate Joint Staff Report on Corporate Dentistry" had some focus on Aspen Dental, to the extent corporate dentistry misrepresents dental clinic ownership via nominee doctor owners.5 PBS Frontline and the Center for Public Integrity ran a joint investigative reporting series featuring alleged patient abuses generated by Aspen Dental.6 The report focused on high-pressure sales, consumer upselling and lack of transparency in dental care financing. Clearly, any individual doctor with this track record would result in their professional license revocation. Why Aspen Dental escapes consequences of lawful enforcement frustrates me.

In light of Aspen Dental's history, claims purporting their support of access to care ring cynically hollow. The flag waving of service to veterans seems far more like a designed marketing strategy, than true beneficence. Dr. Judge's comment, "This (declining percentage of dentists who are ADA members) may be due in part to whether or not dental service organization-supported dentists feel welcome, supported or even relevant to the ADA" appears like a pathetic threat. In my opinion, new dentists are joining organized dentistry in large part to confront workplace abuses from the dental service organization industry as a group.

Michael W. Davis, D.D.S.
Santa Fe, New Mexico

REFERENCES

  1. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Aspen Dental Management, Inc. Court of Common Pleas, Dauphin County, PA. Civil case no. 2010-CV-13591-EQ. Available at: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/372853-aspen-dental-settlement-with-pennsylvania.html. Accessed October 30, 2017.
  2. Aspen Dental to pay close to $1 million to settle allegations of deceptive advertising, charging for services not provided [press release]." Boston, MA; Mass.gov; December 22, 2014. Available at: http://www.mass.gov/ago/news-and-updates/press-releases/2014/2014-12-22-aspen-dental-aod.html. Accessed October 30, 2017.
  3. Attorney General of the State of New York. In the Matter of Aspen Dental Management, Inc., Assurance No.: 15-103: Assurance of discontinuance under executive law section 63, subdivision 15. Available at: https://ag.ny.gov/pdfs/ADMI_AOD.pdf.
  4. AG Zoeller settles with Aspen Dental Management, Inc. over allegations of deceptive advertising, unfair tactics [press release]. Indianapolis, IN: IN.gov. October 22, 2015. Available at: http://in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&eventidn=238268&information_id=232997&type=&rss=rss. Accessed October 30, 2017.
  5. Committee on Finance, United States Senate. Joint Staff Report on Corporate Practice in Dentistry in the Medicaid Program. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. 2013. Available at: http://www.adea.org/uploadedFiles/ADEA/Content_Conversion_Final/policy_advocacy/Documents/emailDist/Report_on_Corporate_Dentistry.pdf. Accessed October 30, 2017.
  6. Heath D, Rosenbaum J. Dollars and dentists: patients, pressures and profits at Aspen Dental. Frontline in partnership with the Center for Public Integrity. PBS: Arlington County, VA. June 26, 2012. Available at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/patients-pressure-and-profits-at-aspen-dental/. Accessed October 30, 2017.