The ADA Morning Huddle is an online publication that purports to be a digest of the most important news selected from thousands of sources by the analysts of BulletinHealthcare.
A complimentary copy is emailed to ADA members several times per week. Sections include Dentistry in the News, Health and Safety, Dental Industry, ADA in the News, Charitable Dentistry, Also in the News, and Dental Benefits.
The ADA does not write these stories. However, these summaries are designed as a compilation of dental news reports so doctors may better answer patient questions. Any given issue of ADA Morning Huddle may include several articles in the Dental Benefits section, for instance, or no items at all. Content depends on what issues are breaking in the news, as well as the discretion of its editors.
For example, the late May story on the orthodontist achieving a student loan debt reaching $1 million dollars was reported on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, in MarketWatch, and in a major report from the Brookings Institute. Dentistry Today covered it as well. But it failed to be included in the ADA Morning Huddle.
By contrast, on June 9, 2018, the ADA Morning Huddle ran The Washington Post’s article, “Cavity Country: Rural America Has Too Few Dentists and Too Few Patients Who Can Pay,” relating to alleged problematic “access to care.” The date of The Washington Post’s piece was only two days prior, June 7.
So, I randomly examined the Dental Benefits section of the ADA Morning Huddle from April 18 to June 9, 2018. I broke reports into three categories of interest: Medicaid or Medicare, Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans, and true insurance matters.
Articles focused on Medicaid and Medicare dominated the reporting (64.8% of reports, or 35/54). Subjects included adult work requirements for Medicaid eligibility, the “benefits” of Medicaid expansion, and expansion of benefits for adult Medicaid.
Reports on the ACA consisted of 16.6% (9/54) of reports. Most pieces reflected on declining benefits.
Articles relating to standard insurance or the insurance industry made up 18.5% (10/54) of the Dental Benefits pieces. Topics included charity work and employers offering dental insurance benefits.
The heavy emphasis on articles related to dental Medicaid and Medicare is notable (64.8% of reports). The ADA Health Policy Institute reports only 38.5% of children aged 2 to 18 are eligible under Medicaid or the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program. Only 7.4% of adults aged 19 to 65 are Medicaid beneficiaries.
The vast majority of adults and children have dental insurance eligibility under private plans. Yet this group is grossly underreported in Dental Benefits stories (18.5% of reports).
One is left to speculate on apparent distortions in reporting coverage. Is there a bias in the media and/or the ADA favoring one group over another? Why are stories relating to standard private dental insurance underreported, while stories relevant to government programs and the ACA consist of 81.5% (44/54) of articles?
The author is a credentialed dental Medicaid provider and works one day per week at a clinic for the disadvantaged.
Dr. Davis practices general dentistry in Santa Fe, NM. He assists as an expert witness in dental fraud and malpractice legal cases. He currently chairs the Santa Fe District Dental Society Peer-Review Committee and serves as a state dental association member to its house of delegates. He extensively writes and lectures on related matters. He may be reached at email@example.com or smilesofsantafe.com.
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