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Kool Smiles to pay millions over allegations it performed unnecessary dental procedures on Maryland children

Kool Smiles must pay the state of Maryland more than $1 million as part of a national settlement for allegedly performing unnecessary tooth extractions and other dental procedures on children and then billing Medicaid.

The settlement is part of $23.9 million the Georgia-based dental company agreed to pay to the federal government and 19 other states. Kool Smiles has more than 100 offices across 16 different states, including five in Baltimore, according to the company’s website.

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Benevis LLC, which provided administrative support to Kool Smiles, is also named in the settlement announced Monday by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.

The parties did not admit wrongdoing in the case and and in a statement said they strongly disagree with the government’s allegations, but entered into a settlement to end the investigation. They said the allegations do not reflect poor quality of care and that Kool Smiles offices provide much needed dental care to underserved communities.

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“The companies have complete confidence in Kool Smiles dentists and the quality and level of care they provide, and are proud to support the ongoing work of Kool Smiles dentists as leading providers of dental care for underserved communities nationwide,” the statement said.

The government alleged Kool Smiles and Benevis filed reimbursement for stainless steel crowns, bay puplotomies, or removal of part of the tooth’s pulp, and other dental procedures from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2011, that were not medically necessary or could have been treated with cheaper options.

The dental companies are accused of encouraging the practice by giving bonuses to dentists who performed many of these procedures and firing those who did not meet “productivity goals.”

“These companies cheated the State by billing for services that were unnecessary or could have been done with less costly treatment options,” Frosh said in a statement. “What’s even worse, they put children through costly, complicated and likely painful procedures that never should have been conducted. It was wrong, inhumane and unlawful.”

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The settlement cites 133 Kool Smiles dental clinics that are owned by licensed dentists through professional corporations.

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