Bedford dentist cited for unfair business practices, AG seeks consumers due refunds

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Bedford dentist cited for unfair business practices, AG seeks consumers due refunds insurance

11/28/16 1 p.m. Story updated below to include a response from Dr. Baldassare

CONCORD, NH — Attorney General Joseph A. Foster today announced that his office brought an enforcement action under the Consumer Protection Act against Marshall A. Baldassarre, a Bedford dentist engaged in the practice of oral and maxillofacial surgery, for his unfair or deceptive business practices related to his repeated and unreasonable withholding of patient credit refunds.

Dr. Baldassarre holds an active dental license issued by the New Hampshire Board of Dental Examiners. He has signed a consent judgment to resolve the Attorney General’s complaint, which was approved by the Hillsborough County Superior Court. Dr. Baldassarre has been contracted as a participating practice with a number of dental insurance companies, including Northeast Delta Dental, since 1982.

The following response was issued by Dr. Baldassare following the announcement by the NH Attorney General’s office:

Under the terms of the Delta Dental agreement, Dr. Baldassarre was only allowed to bill patients for the difference between the capped rate and the amount that insurance would reimburse. Nonetheless, he billed numerous patients up-front for some procedures covered by insurance. When insurance companies ultimately reimbursed Dr. Baldassarre for those patient procedures, he repeatedly failed to issue many of those customer refunds in a timely or reasonable manner. Even though Delta Dental cited Dr. Baldassarre over many years for multiple violations of their billing procedures, Delta Dental never suspended or terminated his participating dentist agreement, and he continued to retain patient funds.

As a direct consequence of the Attorney General’s investigation into his business practices, Dr. Baldassarre has just recently issued refund checks as restitution to 1,623 patients totaling $230,737.00. He has been unable to locate an additional 201 patients who are owed refunds totaling another $22,722.00.

Any patient of Dr. Baldassarre who has reason to believe he or she is owed a refund should contact Dr. Baldassarre’s office or the Office of the Attorney General. Under the terms of the consent judgment, Dr. Baldassarre is enjoined from billing patients inconsistently with the terms and limitations of any participating dentist agreement and from unreasonably withholding patient refunds.

In addition, he must abide by certain patient credit balance review and refund procedures and submit to an annual patient credit balance audit. Dr. Baldassarre will pay civil penalties in the amount of $50,000 with $20,000 of that amount suspended for 5 years. He must also reimburse the State $20,000 for its legal costs and expenses. Any patient refunds not already paid because the patients’ whereabouts are unknown shall be placed in an escrow account for one year. After that date, Dr. Baldassarre shall donate any remaining funds to a charity approved by the Attorney General.

If you believe you may be entitled to a refund, contact James T. Boffetti, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau (603) 271-0302.