Drilling For Dollars, In Your Kid's Mouth

By Jesse Walker, Hit & Run - May 18, 2012

Over at, a disturbingstory describes health care management services companiesdoing unnecessary dental work on unwilling patients. "Some of themhave been riding a boom in Medicaid outlays on dentistry, whichrose 63 percent to $7.4 billion between 2007 and 2010, outstrippingthe 4.9 percent growth in other dental spending,"Bloomberg reports. While taxpayers provide the funds, schoolsystems provide lots of patients, sometimes without their families'consent. For example:

Then there's this allegation:

The reporter approaches the story from a number of angles, somemore compelling than others. There's less than I'd like about whatwas going on in the schools that allowed such abuses to occur, morethan I'd like about legislation aimed at the companies' businessmodel rather than their access to public money and to the schools'captive clientele. (A North Carolina bill backed by the incumbentdental industry, for example, "would subject agreements betweendentists and the companies to state approval.") The articlemeanders a lot as well, as big Bloomberg exposés often do. Butcaveats aside, it's a disquieting tour through the perverseincentives created by public spending, the disregard some schoolsystems apparently have for informed consent, and the sleazyoperations eager to take advantage of the situation.

Elsewhere in Reason: Peter Suderman on Medicare fraud.

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Just what is it about "The Children Belong To Us, The State" thatyou understand?

don't understand.

I think the first one was more accurate.

I don't know much about dentistry, but what kind of assholewould just perform dental work on a minor without their parentsconsent? But I guess OM is right, these kids belong to theState.

I don't know much about dentistryassholery, but what kind of assholeasshole would just perform dental work on a minorwithout their parents consent?

A stupid, greedy one. Also, this is a clear illustration of whathappens when the government, not the patient, is the actualcustomer.

That's just fucked. Not only is it totally despicable to dounnecessary dental work on children, but there are plenty of peopleout there who need some dental work but can't afford it. If thismoney is going to be thrown around, at least give it to people whowould benefit from it.

I'm guessing the Principal and her family getting a nicediscount for this.

"If this money is going to be thrown around, at least give it topeople who would benefit from it."

Zeb, my friend, you have a complete lack of understanding abouthow government works.

No, just lack of willingness to accept this crap.

Lol this is hardly a new phenomon and Dentists don't only usethis trick on Medicare patients.

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