Days after receiving root canals and crowns on six baby teeth at a clinic connected to a private equity business, two-year-old Zion Gastelum passed away.
His parents filed a lawsuit against FFL Partners, a private equity investor, and the Yuma, Arizona-based dentistry practice Kool Smiles. They claimed the operations were unnecessary and aligned with a business goal to boost revenues by overtreating Medicaid-eligible children from lower-income households. According to the lawsuit, Zion passed away after receiving a diagnosis of “brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen.” Kool Smiles “overtreats, underperforms and overbills,” the family alleged in the suit, which was settled last year under confidential terms. FFL Partners and Kool Smiles had no comment but denied liability in court filings. Private equity is rapidly moving to reshape health care in America, coming off a banner year in 2021, when the deep-pocketed firms plowed $206 billion into more than 1,400 health care acquisitions, according to industry tracker PitchBook. In nearly all-hidden transactions from federal authorities, private equity firms have spent almost $1 trillion to buy nearly 8,000 healthcare businesses around the nation, including Florida.