Being an experienced dental billing company, we stay current with the latest updates in the dental industry. The American Dental Association (ADA) has revised its Code of Professional Conduct to provide dental care access to patients with disabilities. Many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unable to obtain dental care, leaving many with untreated diseases. The new revision comes as a great relief to this section of the community.

In January 2018, the National Council on Disability (NCD) advised the ADA to revise its Principles of Ethics & Code of Professional Responsibility. Based on this recommendation, the ADA House of Delegates approved Resolution 50H-2018 and has revised the Code to better reflect the rights of patients with disabilities in providers’ patient selection. With this revision, dental care providers can no longer deny care to patients because of their disability. Earlier, denial based on a patient’s race, creed, color, sexual orientation or gender identity, or national origin was rejected.

Based on the revision, section 4.A. of the ADA’s Code of Professional Conduct explains that “While dentists, in serving the public, may exercise reasonable discretion in selecting patients for their practices, dentists shall not refuse to accept patients into their practice or deny dental service to patients because of the patient’s race, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin or disability.”

Also, the section 4.A.1 in the Code now specifies that disabled patients who require another dentist’s skills, knowledge, equipment, or expertise should not be turned away and should instead be referred to dentists able to provide the necessary care.

These revisions are critical, as the ADA Code is typically the standard upon which state laws and regulations are based and it includes three main components – The Principles of Ethics, the Code of Professional Conduct and the Advisory Opinions.

Neil Romano, NCD Chairman said, “This decision by the ADA no doubt represents a leap in the right direction toward equal access for people with disabilities that cannot afford to be turned away by their care providers. On behalf of the millions of Americans with disabilities, NCD thanks the American Dental Association for taking this important step toward improving the overall health care of this often-underserved population.”

Disability can include physical limitations, medical complications, developmental problems or even cognitive impairments. Some intellectual and physical disabilities can make it difficult to maintain good oral hygiene; as such patients may not have the ability to brush and floss on their own. Finding a dentist for patients with disability or any special needs was difficult. Dental health professionals also need to be prepared to accommodate patients with special needs, regardless of the type of disability. Dental offices should have wheelchair access and other facilities to transfer the patient from the wheelchair to the dental chair.

Low Reimbursement Rate – A Concern among Dentists

As we all know, apart from emergency or complicated dental procedures during inpatient hospital care, Medicare doesn’t cover most dental care, dental procedures such as cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, dentures, dental plates, or other dental devices.

According to a survey from Bankers Healthcare Group (BHG), declining reimbursement rates is the top industry concern among dentists.

Read more details of this survey in our blog.

According to a report from Des Moines Register, frustrated over low payments and increasingly complicated rules, the University of Iowa’s dental college is considering turning away new patients covered by Iowa’s Medicaid program. Such a decision can eliminate access to care for many patients enrolled in the Dental Wellness Plan, resulting in a crisis situation for many patients in the state.

As the dentist community starts providing care for disabled groups too, they can consider partnering with an experienced medical billing services provider to meet their challenging documentation requirements.