Bill would let unpaid dentists extract themselves from Illinois system
For dentists looking to get paid by the state of Illinois, it's been like pulling teeth lately.
The state's growing tab to dentists across the country now surpasses $200 million, prompting a movement in which many are seeking to opt out of an agreement to treat state workers.
The crumbling alliance is one of the latest casualties born of the state’s near two-year budget crisis, which has left overall unpaid debts as high as $13 billion.
A new Senate proposal would allow dentists to end their partnerships with Delta Dental, the administrator of the state’s program, if they are not reimbursed within six months of providing services. The bill has passed its first committee and is set for a full Senate vote.
Dentists enrolled in the Delta Dental program are obligated to provide discounts to state workers in exchange for access to an expansive network of patients. Providers are supposed to be reimbursed through the local government.
Current rules also stipulate that any dentist opting out of the program automatically forfeits his Delta Dental contract, forcing state employees who continue to use his service to pay more up-front costs.
“We can’t afford to float the state forever,” Greg Johnson, executive director of the Illinois State Dental Society, told the Sangamon Sun. “Many of these dentists are owed as much as $250,000. As small business owners, it’s not possible for them to continue that way.”
Johnson points out that some of the currently outstanding debts go as far back as October 2015.
“A lot of these business owners are in dire straits and desperately looking for options to stay afloat,” he said. “We’ll see what happens over the next few weeks, but some of them have already declared they won’t be taking any more state employees as new patients.”