Monday, January 23, 2017

Washington State Senator Ann Rivers Working Hard to Legalize the Already Operating DSO’s in Her State with SB 5158

It appears Washington State’s Senate Healthcare chairperson Senator Ann Rivers (R) is trying to legalize the illegal activity already taking place in Washington by introducing SB 5158 in the 2017 Session. Sen. Rivers represents, the 18th district, which happens to also be the hotbed of many DSO’s which are still considered to be practicing illegally by the current Washington law. Sponsors of the Bill besides Rivers are Senators Annette Cleveland (D) and Karen Keiser (D).

Rivers gave her bill a hearing January 19, 2017, introducing it by stating “I don’t think it is government’s job to outline the type of business structures that can exist.” She forgets, however, that the role of government is to also protect its citizens by only allowing dentists to practice dentistry. (I wonder if a racketeering business structure is also a type that government should not outline)

At the hearing Senator Rivers stated a lot of her motivation (her words, not mine) was about “young dentist starting out have an organization that they can slip into if they’ve got significant debt” and she also wants to “make sure patients have a place they can go on Saturdays”


Well, it’s clear she knows that dentists will actually work for the DSO’s and do not own their own dental clinics! But this “making sure patients have a place to go on Saturday” stuff seems to be a bit of a reaching. Oh wait; she has the DSO’s media handbook. If not, where’s the bill to force attorneys, accountants, and my doctor to be open on Saturday?!

At the hearing it didn’t go unnoticed that she put “Healthcare Delivery in Cuba” ahead of her own bill. There were several people there to speak in opposition of SB 5158. But golly gee; there just wasn’t enough time to hear from everyone.

The highlight of her hearing was the poster boy for Pacific Dental Services (PDS), Creighton University grad, Dr. Brian Polillo, DDS. PDS lobbyist, Roman Daniels-Brown introduced Polillo by stating, “He owns his practice. He contracts with us to provide services to him on the business side of things”.

At the speed of light, Dr. Polillo stated by the time he graduated he had over $400k in debt. He went on to say he “bought his own practice within contracting with PDS” (whatever that means) and he has an associated who is also “buying her own practice”.

Polillo said he had a 4.6 Yelp rating and performed humanitarian work around the world. He obviously had read the Association of Dental Support Organization’s (ADSO) Media Toolkit before the hearing and used his “Earned Media”.

The best part was when Senator Steve O’Ban, who happens to be an astute attorney, asked Dr. Polillo if he could see a copy of his contract with Pacific Dental Services. Dr. Polillo quickly replied, “That’s privileged information and I don’t feel obligated to tell you how I’m getting paid and things like that.

Whoa! Hold Your Horses! If Dr. Polillo owns his own practice and employed the services of PDS, wouldn’t he be paying them?

Dr. Polillo’s response should lead the citizens of Washington and state Legislators to wonder, “Exactly, what is the business arrangement between Pacific Dental Services and its “owner” dentists?” If this arrangement is such a good deal for Washington citizens, why not share it with all of us?

Those who did get a chance to speak in opposition of SB5158 were dentists and even a patient. Each citing the same issues mentioned here on DTM all the time:

  • poor quality of care
  • meeting quotas and production goals
  • reprimanded for under-diagnosing by corporate installed office managers
  • DSO’s putting profits over patient care

Dr. Kalob Lesh compared working for a DSO to a parent and child relationship. In essence saying, you can choose to do it your way, but there is a price to pay.

Jennifer Bryant, corporate attorney for PDS, and Lisa Thatcher, lobbyist for the ADSO, gave short statements in support of the DSO business model. Though their statements were short, their letters were extensive as Sen. Rivers mentioned the 3 page letter she received from Bryant.

You can watch the hearing here, the DSO discussion starts at 1:17:50.