Several Springfield area dentals said they’re withstanding the state not paying its bills, but it gets more difficult each day without payment.
The Illinois State Dental Society said as of the end of January the state owed Dr. Kevin Schlee of Springfield more than $500,000. Dr. Matt Vandermolen, who practices alongside Schlee, said it’s not the fault of state employees their employer is delinquent.
“We’re not charging people, we’re not telling people that have to pay us cash ahead,” Vandermolen said. “I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been able to make it work but it is getting tougher as each month goes by.”
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Dr. Albert Capati owns his own practice in Springfield and said he’s owed up to $10,000 a month from the state.
“There’s so many things that we could be doing with that money that I’m putting off,” Capati said. “Investing in new technologies and paying my workers better, hiring new people.”
Capati said he feels like he’s loaning the government money every time he does work.
It’s not just Illinois dentists getting stiffed by state government. Thousands of dentists across the country also aren’t getting paid.
Illinois State Dental Society Executive Director Greg Johnson said the nearly 10-month budget impasse has left 18,000 dentists across the country holding the bag for work on state employees and retirees. About half of those dentists are in other states.
Johnson said as of January the highest unpaid bill was to Ciampa Oral Surgery in Paducah, Ky., at $53,000.
An office manager with Ciampa said payment from Illinois has always been sketchy, but the dental practice will continue to see patients who are Illinois state employees or retirees.
Johnson said even if a budget is passed, it doesn’t fix the problem.
“I’m assuming they’re going to be years getting this backlog caught up and paid,” Johnson said. “So this is going to have ramifications well beyond, hopefully, a budget is done.”
Johnson said the state owes dentists an average of $15 million per month.