H.R. 3762, the Dental and Optometric Care Access Act or “DOC Access Act”, prohibits certain dental and vision plans from applying these so-called “non-covered services” provisions to network doctors. The bill also would also prevents plans from establishing nominal payments for otherwise non-covered services in an effort to have such services considered covered, limits network agreements to two years without prior acceptance of the doctor for each term contract extension unless the doctor agrees to accept a longer contract extension, and preserves doctors’ freedom of choice in laboratories. Even though a super-majority of states have said ”NO” to these unfair practices, federal health plans are not regulated by state laws. It is time for Congress to take up the DOC Access Act and bring back needed balance to contract negotiations between providers, who are often small business owners, and large dental insurance companies.
Forty-two states have already passed laws that limit interference with the doctor-patient relationship when the doctor delivers services not covered by insurers, but insurance carriers have been able to sidestep state laws for a large portion of their business due to federal preemption of their federally-regulated plans, which is why a legislative fix is needed.