Summer has arrived… The ice is off the lakes, the walleye are biting, the mosquitoes are as big as flies, and oh yes, it is Budget Season at the ADA.
One of the goals of the ADA Strategic Plan is to “ensure that we are a financially stable organization”. With the economy still struggling, with grants and sponsorships way down, and with audit and corrective action expenses still above normal, presenting a responsible and meaningful budget is a challenge. While our membership market share has decreased slightly, our revenue stream has remained fairly constant. As we are all well aware, the purchasing power of our dollar has decreased. Therefore, it is most important that we fund our highest priorities with care. In developing the 2012 budget, senior staff members were asked to scrutinize each budget request to make certain it is aligned with the Strategic Plan.
At our June meeting, the Board reviewed in detail the preliminary work done by the Budget and Finance Committee and the Administrative Review Committee regarding the budget. Board recommendations to the House of Delegates will suggest program cuts that we would rather not make. In addition to drastically cutting programs, each division proposed significant cuts aimed at eliminating even minor waste and excess spending. We understand the need to be fiscally responsible and live within our means, and we are trying to balance that concept with the need to fund programs that are vitally important to the ADA. We respect the right of the House of Delegates to question, modify, and clarify the budgeting process. As is required by ADA Bylaws, we must give 90-day notice of any dues increase.
In keeping with the dues stabilization policy, the BOT voted at our June meeting to recommend a seven dollar dues increase. The dues proposal, if adopted by the House of Delegates in October, will bring revenue to approximately $120,000 and expenses to about $121,000. The dues increase will raise about $748,000, leaving a shortfall of approximately $180,000. Further adjustments should allow us to make up this difference. The BOT will continue to refine the budget at our August meeting. The budget process is an arduous task, and I commend the Board, officers, and staff for all their hard work.
Last year, we passed a special assessment to fund long overdue IT projects. It has been a busy year for our IT staff, as they have worked feverishly to get new projects up and running. We are now seeing the fruits of their labors, and the benefits to the Association and our members will
be great. The House of Delegates interactive website and social media is nearly ready for its roll-out. A committee of House members has been working with IT as advisors on this program. Training is planned throughout the summer so that each member of the House of Delegates can be up to speed and highly functional when we go to Annual Session in October. We believe that this site will provide the opportunity for electronic communication and interaction among groups and individual delegates that the House has been asking for.
Speaking of IT, I encourage each of you to update your profiles in the ADA’s “Find a Dentist” program. There are 18,000 to 20,000 “hits” on the site each month, and this feature is a great member benefit. We are supplying a lot of educational information to the Sharecare website, and our presence and visibility there are growing rapidly. We expect Sharecare to provide positive visibility for the ADA, and with the ADA linked to Sharecare’s website, we expect a significant volume of traffic being forwarded to the ADA website, and ultimately to the “Find-a-Dentist” area of the ADA’s site. Your participation in “Find-a-Dentist,” therefore, could pay big dividends.
The House Committee on Financial Affairs submitted to the Board of Trustees 24 suggestions for change. The Board developed and approved responses to those suggestions, to be conveyed to the Committee by President Ray Gist. Several of the suggestions had previously been identified and remedied by the Board, and several others were already in process prior to the receipt of the Committee’s letter. I appreciate the Committee’s work in identifying issues of importance to the Association. As you may know, in December 2009, the BOT voted to include two members of the House of Delegates on the Budget and Finance, Audit, and Pension Committees on a year-by-year basis. The House presence on those committees has been very helpful, and the Board voted a permanent change in the Board Rules to continue that structure.
We continue to press forward with our “Barriers to Care” project. Another ADA statement on the “dental safety net” was scheduled to be released in July. A Board workgroup is working diligently to frame the barriers to care and to change the face of the playing field to take the emphasis off workforce and emphasize that workforce is only one of many barriers that limit access to dental care.
On the legislative front in Washington, D.C., we continue to push for passage of a bill, sponsored by Representative Paul Gosar, repealing the McCarran-Ferguson Act. Of at least equal importance is a bill that would revise ERISA law to curb abuses by self-funded and multi-state dental benefit plans. As you know, ERISA-regulated plans generally do not fall under the same kind of scrutiny that plans regulated by state insurance departments do. This usually results in a dramatic reduction in patient benefits (especially as related to coordination of benefits), and consequently the dentist’s reimbursement.
At the August meeting we will continue the budget process and begin reviewing any resolutions that will come before the House of Delegates in October. I hope you are planning to attend the Annual Session in Las Vegas October 10-13. It promises to be a great meeting, with excellent speakers and programs. Because Las Vegas is a popular destination, be sure to register soon.
Enjoy your summer!
*Dr. Vigna is the Trustee to the Tenth District of the American Dental Association, representing Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.