April 22, 2013 -- Dental leaders from across the U.S. will visit Sarrell Dental Center this week as part of the National Oral Health Conference taking place in Huntsville, AL.
Dental faculty from several U.S. universities; representatives from the Pew Center for the States Dental Campaign, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the California Dental Association; state dental directors; and dental leaders from New Zealand will tour the nonprofit Sarrell clinic in Athens, AL.
Sarrell is the largest single provider of Medicaid dental services in Alabama and treats 300,000 children annually at its 15 clinics. Sarrell has reduced its average reimbursement rate per patient visit from $328 in 2005 to an industry low of $125 in 2012, the company said. The clinics were featured on PBS' "Frontline" in the 2012 documentary "Dollars and Dentists," which offered it as a positive example of dental chains.
However, Sarrell has also clashed with the Alabama Dental Association over concerns about competition. Tom Willis, DMD, former president of the Alabama Board of Dental Examiners, acknowledged that the conflict partially stemmed from dentists' efforts to protect their turf.