Dental anesthesiologists claim Delta Dental won't credential them as specialists: ADA

Though the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards recognized anesthesiology as a dental specialty in 2019, Delta Dental doesn't credential anesthesiologists in some regions of the U.S., reports the American Dental Association.

Some anesthesiologists said the move minimizes their standing and training while also keeping their reimbursement levels low compared to other anesthesiology-providing specialists.

"Discussing access to safe and cost-effective anesthesia services for many dental patients has historically been limited by the lack of credentialing as specialists and other seemingly arbitrary decisions by third-party carriers such as Delta Dental," said M. Cynthia Fukami, DMD, president of the American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists.

"Credentialing as a specialist by Delta Dental would be a step in the right direction to rectify a growing access problem," Dr. Fukami said. "Acknowledgement by Delta Dental would not only allow dentist anesthesiologists to be credentialed correctly, but also to bill at an appropriate and equitable fee schedule."

Robert Nassif, DMD, a partner in an ambulatory anesthesia practice in Pittsburgh, said his reimbursement levels from Delta Dental haven't increased since he became a Delta provider more than a decade ago, even after anesthesiology was recognized in 2019.

Anesthesiologists also expressed concern about what they are allowed to do as Delta providers. Dr. Fukami called Delta Dental's policy of a one-hour limit for deep sedation and general anesthesia services, regardless of duration or complexity of planned treatment, "archaic" and said it poses a substantial barrier for care.

Michael Hoffmann, DDS, a dental anesthesiologist in St. Louis, said being credentialed as a specialty by Delta Dental has been a slow process, noting that the state "is just now addressing how they are going to recognize the specialty."

Delta Dental declined the American Dental Association's request for comment. Becker's has reached out but did not hear back at the time of publication.

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