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Wednesday 17 August 2022
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Aspen Dental Settles With NYS AG, After Allegations of Upselling

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By Staff

 

aspenState Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced a $450,000 settlement with East Syracuse-based Aspen Dental Management Inc., a company that provides business support and administrative services to seven independently owned dental practices which maintain 40 offices in New York state.

Schneiderman said the settlement will require Aspen Dental, which brings in a reported $645 million in annual revenue, and operates nationwide, to overhaul the way it does business in New York.

“Medical and dental decisions should be made by licensed providers using their best clinical judgment, and should not be influenced by management companies’ shared interest in potential profits,” Schneiderman stated. “By enforcing New York’s laws banning the corporate practice of medicine and fee-splitting between medical practitioners, and non-licensed individuals and entities, today’s agreement ensures that New Yorkers will receive quality dental care.”

According to Schneiderman, his office found the company had been dictating the care provided by dentists and hygienists at dental practices, and splitting patients’ fees with the clinics, which is illegal in New York.

The office of the attorney general ‘s Health Care Bureau launched an investigation into the company, after receiving over 300 complaints from consumers concerning Aspen’s quality of care, billing practices, misleading advertising, upselling of medical services and products, and unclear or incomplete terms for the financing of dental care.

Aspen Dental, also known as ADMI, denied the charges, and has released the following statement regarding the matter:

“The focus at ADMI remains the same: We care for the people who care for the patients by providing business support to the independent dentists who own and operate Aspen Dental-branded practices. With ADMI supporting the administrative and nonclinical aspects of their business, dentists are free to do what they do best: Care for their patients.”

However, Schneiderman said the investigation showed Aspen Dental developed a chain of dental practices, technically owned by individual dentists, but which, in violation of New York law, were subject to extensive control by the company. He said the company controlled substantially all of the dental practices’ bank accounts through a single consolidated account, to which the clinic owners themselves did not have access. In addition, Aspen Dental took a pre-set percentage of each dental office’s monthly gross profit, an arrangement prohibited under New York law, and which created a financial incentive for Aspen Dental Management to pressure staff in the dental offices to generate revenue.

Under the settlement, the company will no longer be allowed to control dental practices’ clinical decision-making, and will not communicate directly with practices’ clinical staff concerning the provision of dental care, sales, or the amount of revenue generated by services or products. The company will also no longer be able to employ practices’ clinical staff, and must make it clear on its website that Aspen Dental Management provides only administrative and business support services to dental practices which are independently-owned and operated by licensed dentists.

Schneiderman said the company will also be required to to pay an independent monitor that will oversee the implementation of the settlement over a three-year period.

The affected dental practices include Aspen Dental Associates of Central New York, Aspen Dental of Rochester, Dental Services of Western New York, Dental Services of Dunkirk, Aspen Dental Associates of Hudson Valley, Dental Health Services, and Judge Dental.