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The ADA says I’m wrong about CareCredit

I received a reply from the ADA MSC person this morning concerning a dentist’s contract with CareCredit/GE. She (?) says that “we” (?) think that a contract with GE financial services will not make a dentist a covered entity under the Red Flags Rule. 

From: MSC Password []
Sent: Wednesday, May 05, 2010 8:50 AM
To: pruittdarrell
Subject: RE: Question 4 - Res 82


Dr. Pruitt, what you state in your email of May 1st, about application of the Red Flags Rule in connection with financing arrangements such as those offered by CareCredit/GE is exactly the opposite of what we told you in our email responding to your question on the subject.  We explained there, and we explain again, the ADA’s view that use of such financing arrangements will not bring a dental practice within the reach of the Red Flags Rule. 


Member Service Center


I immediately responded: “Why didn’t anyone correct me a year and a half ago [when the Red Flags Rule was delayed for the first time]? It’s not like I haven’t asked then ADA President Dr. John Findley as well as current President Dr. Ron Tankersley about the perceived liability of CareCredit. In fact, on July 28, 2009, I submitted a letter to the editor of the JADA concerning the issue. 


I never received a response from anyone in the ADA concerning CareCredit until MSC Person responded a few weeks ago. Was my letter to the editor even read? Who knows? I assume other members are probably treated with equal disdain by anonymous employees as a matter of ADA policy. Or maybe they just leave such decisions to staff who never reveal their names or the names of their supervisors.


Though I am grateful that someone finally officially responded, it occurred to me that for an anonymous person whose salary is paid with my dues, MSC Person sounded just a little too put out with my alleged misunderstanding. But maybe it’s just me. After all, I often get that from anonymous employees - even when I’m not wrong… especially when I’m not wrong. As a matter of fact, a couple of weeks ago, a message was relayed to me that at least one unnamed TDA official is “fed up” with me. So why do these mysterious, aggravated people never offer their names?


I suppose the answer will just have to do for now. However, I’m not the only person who is allegedly misinformed. Believe it or not, I know of a few people who are actually in the security and financial industry who would disagree with MSC Person and “others’” interpretation of FTC law.


Her news simply sounds too good to be true. To be fair to dentists who are suddenly considering signing a contract with GE in order to offer patients payment plans while avoiding the Red Flags Rule, I must point out a few inconsistencies that pop up alongside the ADA’s official answer. Here’s the fat one: Why hasn’t this selling point been jumped on by both CareCredit/GE and the ADA to persuade more members to sign up?


How likely is it that nobody at the American Dental Association Business Enterprise Inc. (ADABEI) or GE thought of the sales angle? That question brings up even more inconsistency with the ADA’s tardy, but official answer.


On July 9, 2009, ADABEI officials used ADA members’ funds to purchase an ad on titled “Press Release: CareCredit Adds 24-Month, No-Interst [sic] Payment Plan” (no byline).


Even though I approve of the benevolence in extending credit to those with worsening dental problems – especially during these hard financial times – the anonymous CareCredit/ADA representative who posted the ad (with sloppy spelling in the title for crying out loud), failed to respond to my question: “If the Red Flags Rule is not delayed for the 3rd time in three weeks, how will it affect those who offer Care Credit?”


Until the Rule was delayed the 3rd time, I followed up my time-sensitive question with four additional messages to CareCredit, ADABEI and an anonymous editor whom I finally named “Nancy.” Even though she allowed three anonymous CareCredit-friendly comments to be posted, my signed questions were censored.


Enter Ms.Cindy Hearn, Vice-President of Marketing for CareCredit/GE


Only later, I discovered that a CareCredit/GE vice president had in fact been reading my censored comments about CareCredit. Even though I clearly pointed out that I did not wish to be called at work, she gave it a try anyway.


I cannot help but suspect that Hearn called my office instead of responding online because like ADA Presidents and others, she preferred to keep bad news about CareCredit private. Before she was convinced that I will neither accept nor return phone calls about the issue, she told my office manager two important pieces of information: CareCredit is owned by GE - which had never been disclosed in ADA literature - and that she knows the answer to my questions.


I was elated by the tangible evidence of progress at last (This was 10 months ago, mind you). Even then, whether the answer was yes or no, Hearn’s information could have been useful to ADA members who were considering signing CareCredit contracts. I felt it was far too important for me to attempt to tell others second hand. Hearn’s is the kind of announcement that begged for online transparency years ago.


I left it up to CareCredit/GE VP to share her answers with everyone. Widespread marketplace communication has never been easier, and Cindy Hearn has no excuse to withhold important information from ADA members. So why did she do it?


“We” move on.


Since we were corresponding, I also sent MSC Person another follow-up email this morning: “Thank you for the response, MSC. Is there a chance that my 4th question will be answered before tomorrow?” That’s the one that asks for an explanation of how the ADA intends to determine and punish ADA members for failure to avoid “conflicts of interest” according to the proposed Resolution 82: “ADA Member Code of Conduct.” I was hoping to coordinate information about Rule 10 with the presentation of the 127 pages of complaints that have been filed against me by anonymous TDA staff and/or TDA members over the last 3 years. I’ve asked Mary Kay Linn, the TDA Executive Director to provide that document before tomorrow’s opening day of the TDA annual meeting as well. So far - Nothing.


Alas, it’s now after 5 PM Chicago time, so my question is answered by default: “No.” Person probably became too busy with answering the phone.


D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

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Replies to This Discussion

In theory, I think it's a great idea and it's pretty much a no-brainer...from a theoretical standpoint. The devil, as always, is in the details:

1. Will it be able to work with the mostly-proprietary dental PMS programs?
2. Will it require enough additional work from the staff to be a deterrent? Most offices we work with find that even the task of assigning passwords for Windows log-ons can be cumbersome.
3. What will the costs be?
4. Will the organizations that are pushing eDRs, mostly state dental societies and the ADA, work with a private company to provide this service? Are they working on this on their own? (Ya, right).




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