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Delta Dental member companies begin offering financial assistance during pandemic

ADA Council on Dental Benefit Programs encouraging others to follow lead

March 24, 2020

By David Burger

 Image of Randall Markarian
Dr. Markarian
The ADA Council on Dental Benefit Programs is applauding certain Delta Dental member companies for providing assistance to its affected dentists in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Delta Dental of Washington is providing two programs to support Washington state dentists, and Delta Dental of Iowa and the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation are also offering two relief programs for Iowa dentists and nonprofits.

“We appreciate that Delta Dental of Washington has come forward to meaningfully support dental practices during this crisis,” said Dr. Randall Markarian, ADA Council on Dental Benefit Programs chair. “As small business owners, dentists face numerous challenges trying to support our patients, and recovery is going to be a long road and we encourage the industry to step forward and follow their example.”

Delta Dental of Washington has established the Delta Dental of Washington Independent Dental Practice Assistance Fund and Independent Dental Practice Reimbursement Advance Program.

The Independent Dental Practice Assistance Fund will provide up to $10 million in grants to Delta Dental of Washington-member dental practices. Individual grants will range in size up to a maximum of $15,000 per tax identification number.

“As we continue to see the impact of COVID-19 across our communities, our business and your practices we know you are faced with some very difficult decisions,” according to a Delta Dental of Washington news release. “We, at Delta Dental of Washington, are committed to partnering with you, your practices and families through these unprecedented and unpredictable times.”

In addition, the Independent Dental Practice Reimbursement Advance Program will begin to advance 25% of average weekly payments of clinical reimbursements in 2019 by practices' tax identification number. The cumulative advances to any one tax identification number will not exceed $25,000. The cumulative advance will be repaid without any interest by the receiving practice in 20 equal weekly payments to Delta Dental of Washington beginning July 1, 2020.

“The assistance fund launched by Delta of Washington is in fact a model that will be a significant financial assistance for practices,” said Dr. Markarian, “because the funds do not need to be repaid from future earnings. The advance reimbursement program, on the other hand, may mitigate near-term cash flow issues, but practices may face additional financial burdens when it is time for repayments.”

Delta Dental of Iowa has also established the Advance Claims Payment Program, which will provide dentists with 50% of their average weekly claim payments in advance for four weeks. This has the same drawback in that it only delays the financial crisis in the dental office — not mitigating it, Dr. Markarian said.

 “We urge third-party payers to consider grant programs, rather than advance payment programs, to support dental practices during these critical times,” added Dr. Markarian.