For you dentists in Texas who generously perform intricate fillings, extractions and root canals on squirmy kids for near-charity Medicaid fees and far too much hassle, I sincerely thank you for your kind hearts.
However, it’s only fair that Medicaid providers in Texas be warned about developments revealed in WFAA’s breaking report, “Feds investigate Texas dental Medicaid program” by Byron Harris.
“In a letter to the state, the inspector general [US Dept. of HHS] says it will examine the ‘authorization process for orthodontic treatment’ under Texas Medicaid.” Harris adds, “Texas spent $184 million on Medicaid orthodontics last year; that’s nine times as much as California, which spent $19.5 million.”
Sure. We learned that Texas orthodontists have much better lobbyists than California’s, but one shouldn’t miss the subtle warning to dentists about doing business with Texas that is hidden deeper in the article. Billy Millwee of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission said “if taxpayers money had been lost, the attorney general might take action to get it back.”
Doc, imagine years from now, receiving a letter from the Attorney General demanding a refund of hard-earned money you had to fight the state for to begin with. If Texans trust the future of Medicaid to the whims of unaccountable state and federal bureaucrats who don’t know how to conduct business, even more of the poor will be driven to already over-burdened charity clinics. Let’s not play these games. People depend on us.
It’s clear that orthodontists in Texas were ambitious, and their opportunism was wrong. But a deal’s a deal, Texas. Move on. The amount of money state leaders carelessly squandered is not worth the years of harm refund demands from the AG would cause the poor in Texas.
Who would want to do business with the state under that threat?
D. Kellus Pruitt DDS – email@example.com
Editor’s Note: Dr. Pruitt is a Ft. Worth dentist