In late January, three Washington State Senators introduced a bill to loosen prohibitions in the Evergreen State on DSO activity. According to Group Dentistry Now, DSOs have operated in the state for three decades, serving 300,000 patients via 150 dentists.
As in several other states, DSOs in Washington are barred from owning or leasing the assets used by a dental practice. The law as it stands requires DSOs to work through their partner dentists and creates a barrier of sorts between DSOs and patients.
Proposed Senate Bill 5158 would remove that barrier, allowing DSOs to directly own or lease the assets and work more directly with practices to provide patient care.
It’s interesting to note that one of the Washington State Senators behind the proposed bill once opposed the idea. According to Group Dentistry Now, he came around when he realized that DSOs could help improve access to dental care and provide greater opportunities to graduating dentists saddled with debt (upwards of several hundred thousand dollars for the typical newly minted dentist).
This proposal may be a sign of changing attitudes towards DSOs and a possible loosening of restrictions in other states. The bill hasn’t yet cleared committee in the Washington State Senate (nor has its companion bill in the House), but we’ll track its progress and provide an update here.