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Alabama Dental Association Under Investigation for Suspicion of Denying Dental Access by the FTC

Thursday, May 13, 2010 General News J E 4
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ANNISTON, Ala., May 13 The Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Bureau of Competition is conducting a non-public investigation to determine whether the Alabama Dental Association (ALDA) is engaged in unfair or deceptive acts in order to limit or impede the ability for non-profit and public oral health care providers to operate in the state of Alabama.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100513/CL04486LOGO )

The investigation will review communications between ALDA and individuals at the University of Alabama School of Dentistry (UABSOD), and between ALDA and any other dental care providers, regarding non-profit and public oral health care clinics, such as Sarrell Dental the largest non-profit dental practice in the state.

The launch of this investigation comes on the heels of an ALDA meeting held earlier this year where participants openly discussed shutting down non-profit dental clinics, specifically the Sarrell Dental Center. The FTC is also looking into several other issues; including whether a powerful group of ALDA members influenced the University of Alabama at Birmingham's abrupt decision to sever its five-year relationship with Sarrell. UABSOD recently announced that it will no longer allow its dental students to work in Sarrell facilities.

In this battle waged against non-profit dental clinics, it is the Medicaid eligible, underserved children of Alabama who stand to pay the highest cost. The U.S. Surgeon General has called oral care the number one unmet health need of children in this nation. Nearly six out of every ten Alabama children eligible for Medicaid dental benefits are not using those resources. Sarrell has delivered quality oral health care to tens of thousands of traditionally underserved Alabama children for nearly five years.

According to a study released by Pew Report, Alabama failed five out of eight national standards for dental care. Overall, the state received a 'D.' Some states have mandates requiring a certain percentage of a dentist's patients must be Medicaid eligible, Alabama has no such requirement. To meet this deficiency of care available for low-income patients, non-profit dental offices such as Sarrell opened.

"Sarrell is fully cooperating with the Federal Trade Commission in this matter," said Jeffrey A. Parker, Chief Executive Officer of Sarrell Dental. "Sarrell is proud that we've been able to improve the dental health care of Alabama's children, and look forward to continuing our services and taking care of the children of Alabama."

About Sarrell Dental

Sarrell Dental is a non-profit organization that provides needed access to comprehensive dental and eye care to underserved children on Medicaid and ALL-KIDS insurance, including oral health screenings for Alabama's pre-school and school aged children and immediate dental treatment to any Alabama child that presents regardless of ability to pay. As part of its mission, Sarrell Dental also actively participates in primary clinical research regarding local and national pediatric dental issues. For more information about Sarrell Dental, please visit www.sarrelldental.org.

SOURCE Sarrell Dental
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