Stop Private Equity owned dental clinics from abusing children for profit and defrauding Medicaid
This petition had 221 supporters
In Virginia, four-year-old Miguel is strapped down, kicking and screaming, held by four adults, one of whom forces his mouth open by pinching his nostrils. His mother isn’t allowed to be in the room.
Across the country, in Phoenix, Arizona, four-year-old Isaac, a medically-fragile child suffering traumatic brain injury from infancy, is held down by three adults, forced to open his mouth and endure physical abuse that is particularly dangerous for him. His mother does not even know he is being treated. Later he will tell his mother, “The dentist man got me.”
A very different scene takes place in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Richard Malouf, founder of All Smiles, a chain of Private Equity owned dental clinics, steps off of one of his two Gulfstream jets, climbs behind the wheel of his Bentley (or maybe his Porsche Carrera), and drives to his $20 million mansion in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods of Dallas. He’s adding a new wing to his home, and wants to check on its progress. In some way he is the “dentist man,” getting both children and the taxpayer.
Every day, across the nation, young children are physically and emotionally abused in the name of turning a profit. Medicaid—a program meant to help the poor and disabled—is being defrauded every day in America. Illegal Private Equity owned dental clinics are betraying the trust of those in desperate need, and stealing billions out of the pockets of the American taxpayer.
There is a video online that will give you a vivid perspective into this problem, and it will change the way you look at dental clinics and their owners. Please go to YouTube. Type in “Small Smiles,” and watch “I-Team: Small Smiles Investigation.” It’s only a nine-minute video.
The direct URL is:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIoMaw4zC9Q
Hundreds of children can be heard screaming every day in clinics just like the clinic featured in this video.
Children such as Isaac Gagnon.
Bloomberg recently posted an article, “Dental Abuse Seen Driven by Private Equity Investments.” It is the story of 4-year-old Isaac Gagnon, a young child living with traumatic brain injury, who was forced to suffer through two baby root canals, two steel crowns, and 10 X-rays, all without his adoptive mother’s knowledge or consent. It wasn’t until Isaac arrived home from school, mouth bloody and hurting, with a dental bill in his backpack, that his mother learned what had happened. Even one of these procedures was considered dangerous for young Isaac, and she had expressly forbidden the dentist from performing any invasive procedures.
The Bloomberg article highlights the inherent problem with dental clinics, which owe a responsibility to the health and care of their patients, being owned by Private Equity firms, which owe their highest responsibility to making more profit for shareholders. Take a look at the article here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-17/dental-abuse-seen-driven-by-private-equity-investments.html
Every year, thousands of kids are emotionally and physically abused during “dental treatments,” and the common denominator is that they are treated at clinics owned by the likes of Morgan Stanley Private Equity, American Capital, Arcapita, and the Carlyle Group. Even Wal-Mart is now getting into the corporate practice of dentistry.
Money is the motive. The founders of the clinics make hundreds of millions of dollars, enough to keep them in very expensive homes, personal jets, and luxury automobiles, while the victims of their abuse often live below the poverty level.
Abuse is a problem, but so is Medicaid fraud. Many Texas orthodontists have found a way to cash in on a program that was intended to help the poor and disabled to receive much needed medical care. These clinics are deliberately falsifying paperwork, asserting that non-qualified patients are actually qualified for braces under Medicaid. They are able to do this because they know that the system is broken. No one is checking or verifying their claims.
As these Texas clinics bilk Medicaid out of hundreds of millions each year, their owners live extravagant, wealthy lifestyles.
Take a look at this recent story by Byron Harris, a reporter with WFAA-TV in Dallas, about a chain of Private Equity owned dental clinics known as All Smiles. The chain recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the clinics’ founder, Richard Malouf, is doubling the size of his mansion.
Watch the story here: http://www.wfaa.com/news/health/All-Smiles-Files-for-Bankruptcy--150243685.html
Malouf owns two corporate jets, a Bentley, and a Porsche Carrera. His clinics have billed more to Medicaid for braces than the entire state of Illinois. Malouf is living a life of luxury, paid for by the American taxpayer.
Are state regulatory agencies powerless to stop this?
In recent testimony before the Texas House of Representatives, the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) claimed it is powerless to do anything about private equity-owned dental clinics.
“We do regulate dentistry,” said Joy Sparks, the Board’s legal counsel. “If you own a clinic you are practicing dentistry in the state. The problem is, our remedy is to sanction a license. If someone is practicing dentistry under a corporate clinic or private equity, they are not licensed. We don’t do anything with people who are practicing without a license.”
A state board claims that they are powerless to regulate Private Equity-owned dental clinics because those clinics cannot hold a license to practice dentistry, and therefore cannot legally practice dentistry. This is a little like a police officer letting a drunk driver go free because he didn’t have a driver’s license.
For those children who are emotionally and physically abused by Private Equity-owned dental clinics, how long will the abuse continue before someone steps up to protect them? If we witnessed a parent causing this kind of pain to a child in a grocery store, we’d call the police, or maybe even step in to stop it ourselves. We would intervene to put a stop to the abuse, and we should intervene now.
We urge you to watch the I-Team video above. For more information, including a full explanation of how these Private Equity clinics are defrauding Medicaid, we’ve set up an informative website at www.moriarty.com/abusivedentalclinics.
These children, and the American taxpayer, are in desperate need of someone to intervene, to step up, and to help. Their hope is that we will do the right thing, and put a stop to the ongoing crimes of these Private Equity owned dental clinics. We should answer that hope by doing what is right.
Join us in asking for protection and for justice for these children.
We want state dental boards, such as TSBDE, to step up and do the job they have been given, to regulate this industry and protect the public from harm by shutting down Private Equity owned dental clinics. Signing this petition will send a message to Mr. Glenn Parker, Executive Director of the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners. This state board, created specifically to regulate the dental industry in Texas and protect citizens from dental abuse and fraud, has claimed it has no power to regulate Private Equity owned dental clinics, and allows them to continue.
We want Congress and State Legislatures to use their power to stop Private Equity firms from turning dental practices into assembly line mills, bent on turning profits rather than providing appropriate and adequate care to patients. Signing this petition will send support to Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, Thom Tills, who is trying to pass House Bill 698, which would require the board of dental examiners to examine all dental contracts entered into by the state. Learn more about this Bill by visiting http://www.protectqualitydentalcare.org/
We want school districts to stop allowing public schools to be used as fronts and factories for inflicting physical and emotional abuse on children, allowing Private Equity owned dental clinics to camouflage themselves by using the public’s trust in the school system. Signing this petition will send a message to John Huppenthal, Superintendent of Public Instruction in Arizona. His voice will carry weight in preventing Private Equity owned dental clinics from using public schools as dental mills, inflicting physical and emotional abuse on students in low-income neighborhoods.
Sign our petition today to add your voice to the outcry, and to stand up and do what is right.
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