Dental Medicaid Fraud in Texas Prompts New Legislation for Dental Board Reform and Patient Rights
May 3, 2013
AUSTIN, TEXAS (May 3, 2013) — State Representative Lois W. Kolkhorst (R - Brenham), Chair of the Public Health Committee in the Texas House of Representatives, authored and passed House Bill 3201, a sweeping dental practice reform bill for Texas, calling for parental rights for pediatric dental patient care, additional disclosure information for dental license renewal, and new disciplinary actions by the Texas Dental Board.
“As a mother of two children, I was shocked to learn that in 2010, there were estimated to be over 15,000 Texas children who were given inappropriate dental care, including braces on baby teeth,” said Kolkhorst. “Most of these were Medicaid cases that involved dentists and dental clinics who would not allow parents to observe the dental care given to their children.” Under the bill’s reforms, Texas parents and legal guardians would be given the right to observe most dental services being provided to their children.
Kolkhorst also said her legislation is aimed at cracking down on the millions of dollars in dental and orthodontic Medicaid fraud recently uncovered by both WFAA-TV investigative news reports (in North Texas) and the Texas Attorney General’s office.
“I’m the daughter of a dentist,” said Kolkhorst, “and I truly believe the vast majority of Texas dentists are outstanding health care providers, but we do have a few bad players who have defrauded taxpayers out of millions of dollars.” Last year, the Texas Medicaid program paid out $1.4 billion to dentists and orthodontists, representing a roughly fourfold increase since 2006.
Along with taking aim at Medicaid abuses, the reforms also call for increasing dental license registration fees to increase funding for expert panelists to review complaints quickly. The process will speed up significantly for both patients and dentists, who currently wait, on average, over 400 days for a case to be resolved. The new process will take place within 60 days. The bill also establishes a new system for dental patients to file these complaints and to track Medicaid providers.
“Simply stated, the state dental board needs more teeth,” Kolkhorst said. “In the past two years, not one dentist in Texas has had their license revoked for Medicaid fraud or patient complaints. That’s just not acceptable. We need to give the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners the resources and direction to change that.”