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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 31, 2020

By David Burger

 Image of Randall Markarian
Dr. Markarian
The ADA is calling on third-party payers to support dental practices in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have contacted several dental insurance companies to request various forms of assistance and we look forward to their response,” said Dr. Randall Markarian, chair of the ADA Council on Dental Benefit Programs.

The ADA Council on Dental Benefit Programs is applauding four Delta Dental member companies for announcing financial assistance programs that provide assistance to 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. In addition, NorthEast Delta Dental (Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont) has also come forward with programs, as well as Delta Dental of Rhode Island.

“We appreciate that these member companies have come forward to meaningfully support dental practices during this crisis,” said Dr. Markarian. “As small business owners dentists face numerous challenges trying to support our patients, 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 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. In addition, the Dental Practice Reimbursement Advance Program will begin to advance 25% of average weekly payments of clinical reimbursements in 2019 by practice’s 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.

“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.

NorthEast Delta Dental is offering a relief program in which each dental office will receive a check in the amount of about one percent of their 2019 claim payments received from NorthEast Delta Dental.

Delta Dental of Rhode Island has created its own Advance Claims Payment Program, which Intends to address immediate cash flow needs by providing weekly advance payments for a four-week period beginning one week following the receipt and approval of an agreement.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has also expanded its advance claims payment programs for Medicare Part B providers.

Further information on the state programs is available on ADA.org/virusresources and clicking on the tab that says “Financial Assistance from Third Party Payers.”

“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.