The Work at Hand

The Work at Hand

Edward J. Vigna, D.D.S.*:

In my last article for Northwest Dentistry I mentioned that the snow was still on the ground. Well, guess what? It is May 13, I am at my home in the Black Hills, we have about eight inches of new snow on the ground, and it’s still snowing! I think we have two seasons here, winter and July!
Enough with the weather!!

Always on the Table
As always, the ADA Board of Trustees continues to address the critical issues facing dentistry.

New ADA Website Debuts
At last, it is here: the new ADA website! I hope you are using and enjoying our completely redesigned and reorganized website featuring stronger content for dentists and their patients, easier navigation, and a colorful, user-friendly new format at Staff worked very hard on this project, and I am very pleased that its recent launch went so smoothly. If you have not done so already, please visit the site to familiarize yourself with its many improvements.

Moving Forward
I am pleased to report we now have 12 states that have passed legislation preventing insurance companies from setting fees for non-covered services. Three of the 12 are in the Tenth District: Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota.

ADA Responds to PEW Report
In my last article I discussed the PEW report “The Cost of Delay” relative to the status of the Oral Health of children in all 50 states. The following two paragraphs are from a letter sent to the PEW Foundation by ADA president Ron Tankersley:
“We have thoroughly reviewed ‘The Cost of Delay’. The report card format was a clever choice. Unfortunately, this attempt at an easy to understand assessment of extremely complex health issues risks misinterpretation by those who make and influence policy, people who often possess only a minimal understanding of oral health and oral health care. Further, some of the report’s findings were either based on faulty analysis of data or just plain wrong, leading to some incorrect and potentially damaging conclusions.

Our greatest concern is the report’s incorrect reading of Medicaid reimbursement rates, which results in greatly overstated assessments for some states. This can lead cash-starved legislators to ignore requests for increased Medicaid funding or, worse, to cut already anemic Medicaid dental budgets.”

2010 Conference on Workforce Issues Set for July
Workforce issues remain the most pressing issue facing the profession. A 2010 Conference on Workforce Issues will be convened on Sunday, July 18, at ADA headquarters in Chicago to engage volunteer dental leaders from across the country in a dialogue on workforce issues, including a close-up look at the various workforce models under consideration in dentistry. Each state will have the opportunity to send three representatives to this conference. An ADA News story about this conference is available on We will also be having a special reference committee at the ADA House of Delegates to deal specifically with workforce issues.

Washington Leadership Conference
Our Washington Leadership Conference (WLC) was held from April 12-14 in DC, allowing dentists to meet with their federal lawmakers and discuss issues related to oral health and dental practice. WLC participants were briefed on presenting the ADA’s top advocacy issues on Capitol Hill, which included: excluding dental practices from FTC Red Flags rule; repealing the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust exemption for insurance companies; and supporting H.R. 5000, the Dental Coverage Value and Transparency Act, introduced by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.), which seeks to ensure that dental plans work properly for dental consumers and providers. Roughly 85 percent of Congressional offices received a visit from WLC participants. That’s advocacy in action.

Small Business Exemption for Dentists Approved
The full Senate unanimously approved an amendment by Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) that would exempt dental practices and other eligible small businesses from the jurisdiction of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), as proposed in the Restoring American Financial Stability Act. The amendment would exempt small businesses as defined by the Small Business Administration, which includes 99.8 percent of all dental practices. The very small number of dental offices not exempt by the SBA definition will be exempt through another provision in the bill. Without this amendment, dental practices and other small businesses that allow their patients or customers to pay in installments would be subject to the same regulations as large banks and credit card companies.

The ADA lobbied hard on this issue, working with senators from both parties, as well as business groups and other dental and medical organizations, to bring the matter to their attention and develop an acceptable solution.

Strategic Plan Advances
The Board of Trustees reviewed the 2011-2014 strategic plan and provided feedback to the Strategic Planning Committee. The plan is designed to focus on the strategic imperatives of the Association and will help frame annual operational plans.

The Strategic Planning Committee developed objectives and metrics to support the overarching goals that the Board developed. The plan is designed to make the ADA as effective an organization as possible and to facilitate a means to measure success. It includes three main goals.

Goal 1. Provide support to dentists so they may succeed and excel throughout their careers.
This goal has four objectives:
1. Professional competency and ethical standards - high level of knowledge, skills, values regardless of chosen career path; success for all career paths.
2. Professional autonomy - preserve the doctor-patient relationship, dentist as the leader of the dental team.
3. Financial health - sustainable business models, work life balance, career path, modality, chosen lifestyle. Not just dollars and cents, financial health and success with broader definitions.
4. Positive Public Image - awareness of dental credentials, civic/community leadership; environmentally responsible. Member health, wellness, and professional satisfaction throughout careers.

Goal 2. Be the trusted resource for oral health information that will help people be good stewards of their own oral health.
1. Oral health literacy - easy access to evidence based, appropriate and timely oral health information; creation and transfer of knowledge.
2. Shared responsibility - patients and dental professionals understand their unique roles and responsibilities in managing an individual’s or a community’s state of oral health.

Goal 3. Improve public health outcomes through a strong collaborative profession; including effective collaboration across the spectrum of stakeholders outside of dentistry.
1. Effective professional collaboration - common goals of improving health via literacy, workforce, delivery systems, scientific knowledge.
2. Public has access to effective prevention and to a quality focused delivery system. Public delivery system mirrors the efficiencies of private system. Goal of elimination of oral disease, becomes a focal point. Access to fluoridation.

The Board approved the framework and requested that the Strategic Planning Committee consider adding a fourth goal to ensure that the ADA remains a financially stable organization that provides appropriate resources to enable operational and strategic initiatives. The committee will submit a final plan to the Board at the June meeting for its review and approval along with a communications plan for its rollout.

Plan Now for 2010 Annual Session in Orlando, Florida
Registration and housing information for the 2010 ADA Annual Session in Orlando is open at under the meeting theme “The Future of Dentistry Meets Here”. The Preliminary Session Program is available in a user-friendly digital format within the link above, and the printed version mailed in early May. Malcolm Gladwell will be Session’s distinguished speaker on October 9. Author of three New York Times
#1 bestsellers including The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, Mr. Gladwell has been named by Time magazine as one of its 100 Most Influential People.

And Keep In Touch
As always, I appreciate the opportunity to represent you on the ADA Board of Trustees. Please contact me with any questions or concerns:, or (402) 770-7070.

*Dr. Vigna is the Trustee to the Tenth District of the American Dental Association, representing Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Plan Now for ADA Annual Session 2010 in Orlando, Florida
The Council on Annual Sessions is proud to announce that registration is open for the American Dental Association’s 151st Annual Session and World Marketplace Exhibition, to be held in Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center from October 9-12. The ADA Annual Session brings together leaders in dental practice, research, academics, and industry to offer attendees the choice of more than 245 relevant and topical continuing education courses over four days.
• Free with your registration:
o More than 50% of lecture courses offered free with registration
o Entrance into the World Marketplace Exhibition, featuring hundreds of leading suppliers of dental products and services
o Entrance into the acclaimed “Opening General Session and Distinguished Speaker Series”
o Access to housing and travel discounts.

• Orlando offers excellent recreational opportunities over this Columbus Day weekend.

• The ADA’s Opening General Session will take place Saturday, October 9 at 8:00 a.m., on the exhibit floor at the Orange County Convention Center.
o Celebrated author Malcolm Gladwell will be the “2010 Distinguished Speaker”.
o Mr. Gladwell is known for his incomparable gift for interpreting new ideas in the social sciences and making them understandable, practical, and valuable to business and general audiences. He is the author of three New York Times #1 bestsellers: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference; Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking; and now Outliers: The Story of Success.
o He was named by Time magazine in 2005 as one of its 100 Most Influential People.

• The 2010 Annual Session special event, “ADA Night at Universal’s Islands of Adventure®”, will take place Sunday evening, October 10, from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
o ADA attendees will have exclusive access to the theme park and each of the unique islands, including Jurassic Park, Lost Continent, Marvel Super Hero Island, Seuss Landing, Toon Lagoon, and the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, set to open in spring 2010.
o The ticket price of $70 for adults and $55 for children (before September 10) includes access to all of the unique islands within the park, a $10 concession coupon for use during the event, and other amenities.

• The ADA offers discounts on housing at more than 30 official ADA hotels in the vicinity of the Orange County Convention Center and Disney World®.
• The ADA offers discounts on air travel, ground transportation, and rental cars.
• Discounts are also available to Annual Session attendees for theme park tickets to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld, as well as for a series of dinner shows.
• The ADA offers a menu of more than 20 unique Orlando-area tours.
• Please visit for more information.

Michael Remes, D.D.S., Council on the Annual Session, Tenth District