State officials mull legal action against Allcare

2010 07 02 15 19 39 526 Closed Sign 70

There has been an outpouring of outrage and support in the wake of this week's unanticipated announcement that Allcare Dental & Dentures had closed all of its U.S. offices.

According to the New York Attorney General's (AG) Office, a year ago Allcare had 52 locations and employed 772 people in 15 states, including Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. But closings and consolidations since then reduced the number to about 38 at the time of the shutdown, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.

With complaints pouring in, AGs in numerous states are launching investigations into Allcare's activities to determine if any laws were broken and if legal action against the company is warranted, according to news reports. Other states are working to ensure that Allcare patients are given access to their dental records and connected with other dental practitioners to ensure the work most of them prepaid for is completed.

In Michigan, for example, the AG's office has received 41 complaints against Allcare since the company closed down December 31, according to a story by WBAY. In addition, the Genesee County Sheriff's Office has opened an investigation as well, following the closure of the Allcare clinic in Flint. The Flint Township branch reportedly stopped paying rent in June and was ordered by a Genesee County judge to pay $45,000 in unpaid rent.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania -- where Allcare agreed in 2009 to pay $135,000 to settle consumer complaints against it -- the AG is looking into new complaints this week about Allcare, along with any potential violations of the previous settlement, the AG's office told the Beaver County Times.

In West Virginia, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Stonestreet told the Associated Press that the AG's office hasn't decided what legal steps it will take against Allcare, noting that the state received about 40 complaints about Allcare before the company shutdown and is expecting more calls now.

In Indiana, as of January 5, the state AG had received about 60 phone calls and 30 complaints about Allcare, which had offices in a least nine Indiana communities, according to a story in the Indianapolis Star. Some of the patients had paid $800 to $8,000 for services they never received, and some patients who need dentures are without teeth, the Star reported.

The Indiana AG's office is trying to determine whether Allcare knew it would have to close, took patients' money for services it knew it couldn't provide, and if the dentists who worked for the company knew the company would close but failed to give patients proper notice. If proper steps were not taken when Allcare closed, the company could face a civil lawsuit, and the dentists who worked there could be disciplined, according to the newspaper.

And on January 6, the North Dakota AG's office told WDAY-TV that getting money from Allcare was likely going to be "very difficult." The AG's office there has so far received 15 complaints with losses totaling about $50,000, a spokesperson for the AG's consumer division told WDAY.

Help being offered

In the meantime, thousands of former Allcare patients are struggling to gain access to their records and find other providers to do the dental work they still need.

In New Hampshire, for example, Allcare had about 40,000 patients in two cities, according to the AG's office. At the request of the AG's office, the Allcare clinics in Manchester and Nashua reopened January 6 to provide patients there with their dental records, according to the Wall Street Journal story.

But as word of the Allcare shutdown spreads, the dental community is stepping in to help. In Iowa, for example, Emergency Dental Care in Clive said it would be getting records from Allcare's Des Moines office and would do the work people had already paid Allcare for, according to a story in the Des Moines Register.

In Flint, MI, the Genesee District Dental Society is gathering help for patients affected by the closure of the Allcare clinic there, according to a story on mlive.com.

And the Cleveland Free Clinic in Ohio is teaming with faculty and staff of the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine to provide care to those affected by the Allcare shutdown, according to a story by Fox8 News.

In addition, Ken Cooper, chief executive of Dental Express Practice Management Services and Refresh Dental Management, said his offices in Columbia, Mahoning, Trumbull, and Mercer counties in Ohio would work with Allcare patients who were in the middle of being treated for services they already paid for, according to a story in the Plain Dealer. Hudec Dental, a dental chain with 11 locations in Greater Cleveland, is offering free exams and x-rays and $25 off for first-time Allcare Dental patients, while the Health Smile offices in Eastlake and Cleveland Heights is offering Allcare patients 10% off all services.

In a posting January 5 on www.allcareinfo.com, the company said it is "continuing to work day and night to transfer patient records and unfinished dental work in the offices to dentists with offices located as close as possible to the closed Allcare locations."

Copyright © 2011 DrBicuspid.com

Page 1 of 346
Next Page