Well Seasoned

Well Seasoned

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

Fall has been referred to as the season to “get ready”, and I presume that means for winter. I guess everyone in Minnesota is waiting for the lakes to freeze. At ADA, it’s time to get ready for the Annual Session. The July and September Board of Trustee meetings were filled with resolutions and procedure decisions for the Orlando meeting.

What’s Up for the 2010 House of Delegates in Orlando
In a previous article, I discussed the Board’s recommendation for a $7.00 dues increase and a $23.00 one-time assessment for updating our IT infrastructure. Following the recent September Board meeting, that recommendation still stands. It will be up to the House of Delegates (HOD) to approve the proposed budget and any corresponding dues increase and assessments.

As always, many important issues face the House of Delegates. I would say, without a doubt, the most complex issue with far reaching and long lasting consequences is workforce. How we deal with the many resolutions addressing non-dentists, or mid-level providers as they are referred to, doing surgical/irreversible procedures will be challenging, to say the least. I am sure we will establish, or re-state, existing ADA policy.

Then comes the issue of studying or pilot testing mid-level providers. The challenge is that you cannot do the research in a test tube in the lab. Someone must create a program and train and then evaluate the program and the people. I think the complexity is obvious: Do we like or dislike the concept? Do we support pilot testing or not? I know all of you in Minnesota understand the dilemma. Wish the House well, as this will not be easy.

Communications, or lack thereof, has been a big concern of mine, and I am very pleased that we will be presenting a new plan for communicating all levels of documents and reports with the HOD members and all the members when appropriate. Much of this will be incumbent upon the dues increase and the special assessment. Which reports are released, and when they are released to the HOD, has been a major concern for me and some of my colleagues this year.

Testing and licensure issues will generate great debate and discussion again this year. There are a number of resolutions addressing those issues. So as you can see, the HOD will have a full plate in Orlando, and I have just mentioned what I think will be the most pressing issues.

Politics in the New Normal
This is also the season to plan our political agenda for the next session of Congress. The following seem to me to be some of the major issues we will try to address with the new Congress in 2011.

1. Ensuring the continued viability of the current private sector dental delivery model with the dentist as head of the team.

The ERISA reform positions are designed to ensure greater transparency and value in dental coverage. There is also a provision in the new health care reform law that provides authorization for pilot programs of new dental team members (including mid-level providers who could perform surgical procedures). As yet, this provision, which the ADA currently opposes, has received no appropriations.

2. Success-fully addressing access to oral health care for underserved populations.
The Essential Oral Health Care Act (EOHCA) and Special Care Dentistry Act of 2010 will fix the fundamental problem with the dental Medicaid program (lack of funding) if states elect to participate. The Special Care Dentistry Act extends dental coverage to the aged, blind, and disabled. These individuals are generally the “dual eligible” people who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.

3. Assure that implementation of the new health care reform law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) and other laws are consistent with efforts to improve the public’s oral health and does not adversely affect small businesses, such as dental practices.

Through the efforts of the Organized Dental Coalition, we will continue to work for the repeal of this increased requirement for filing 1099s. The requirement to file additional form 1099s for any purchase of more than $600 is onerous and unnecessary.

The Red Flags issue would require businesses to take certain steps to minimize identity theft. At a minimum, the ADA is seeking an exclusion for small businesses.

Arizona Dentist Runs for Congress
Speaking of the Congress, we are even closer to electing another dentist to the U.S. House of Representatives. Dr. Paul Gosar of Arizona won his primary election, outdistancing a crowded field. He will face the incumbent in the November election. He is currently leading in the polls, but the incumbent has a large war chest. For further information about this race, you may go online to www.gosarforcongress. We have never been closer to having another “wet fingered” dentist in Congress!

Ready, Steady, Go for Orlando 2010
In the spirit of getting ready I hope many of you are getting ready for the Annual Session in Orlando. I know I am, and I look forward to visiting with you in person when there.

Stay 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 at evigna@ada.org 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.