Bill May Stop Dispute Involving Dentists, Nonprofit Groups



Alabama Governor Robert Bentley may soon end a dispute between dentists and nonprofit groups.

A bill waiting for Bentley to sign will require nonprofit groups that treat low-income dental patients to register with the Alabama Board of Dental Examiners. It also stipulates that the nonprofit groups would be allowed to perform dental treatment.

The dispute arose because the nonprofit corporation grew larger than ever could have been expected. One nonprofit group in particular, Sarrell Dental Centers, was at odds with the dental community. This group, which has 52 dentists, 11 clinics, and a mobile unit could as much as $15 million this year.

This new legislation is viewed as a compromise and should end the problems that each side had. The reason is the dental examiners board will now have the authority to correct any issues with the treatment from the nonprofit groups.

Roughly 90 percent of the Sarrell Dental Centers’ patients are young, low-income people. Their dental care is generally funded by Medicaid.

The problems between the two sides began when the University of Alabama Birmingham, the state’s only dental school, withdrew students from the Sarrell Dental Centers’ clinics. The Federal Trade Commission looked into the situation to see if any laws were broken.

According to Jeffrey Parker, CEO of Sarrell Dental, the group will halt its antitrust litigation against the dental groups if the governor signs the bill. As of now, Bentley is looking over this bill, among others.