Annual Session Reflects Thoughtful Vigilance

Annual Session Reflects Thoughtful Vigilance

Edward J. Vigna, D.D.S.*:
The 152nd Annual Session of the American Dental Association is history. Dr Bill Calnon was installed as president, and Dr. Bob Faiella was elected president-elect. I would say that this year’s House of Delegates was efficient and effective. The mood was much calmer and more pleasant and reflected greater understanding of the work of the Board  of Trustees this past year. The trust level between the House of Delegates and the Board of Trustees is vastly improved. 
 
Dr. O’Loughlin gave the House a good understanding of the financial concerns we all share for the future. We are very sound financially, and there is by no means panic. However, we are concerned about our declining income, from all sources, and the increasing costs of doing business … sound familiar? To mention just one cost saving  measure, we have made some significant changes in our pension plan for ADA employees. We will continue to watch our spending and make every attempt to increase  revenues in any and every way possible. 
 
Highlights of the 2011 Annual Session Budget
The House of Delegates approved a 2012 operating budget of $120,139,667 in expenses and $120,512,074 in anticipated revenue, and called for a $7.00 increase in  membership dues. ADA dues as of January 1, 2012 will be $512. This was the early projection from the BOT of the amount needed to balance the budget. Although we came  to the house with a surplus, due to sharp cuts, the additional expenses incurred by HOD resolutions brought us back to the $7.00 increase. The programs and spending of the  HOD were well thought out and timely, and I completely support the need for this modest increase. 
 
Special Committee on Financial Affairs and Standing Committees
Although the Special Committee on Financial Affairs will no longer exist, we will continue to have two House members on the following Board standing committees: Audit,  Budget and Finance, and Pension and Strategic Planning. It has been very valuable having House members on these committees. 
 
State Public Affairs Program 
I was very pleased to see the belief and commitment the House made to the State Public Affairs (SPA) program. In my mind, this is one of the ADA’s strongest programs. The  House voted to provide base funding for the SPA program at $3.5 million and to make available an additional $5 million from reserves if needed. This is essential to support the advocacy efforts of SPA and to address emergent needs in the states. 
 
Student Block Grants
Funding for Student Block Grants was retained at 75% of last year’s amount, or $126,750. Some changes will occur in the program, with additional metrics being added to the  application and reporting process. In my mind, this is a valuable program to aid in the recruitment of new members to the ADA. 
 
ADPAC
ADPAC set a new record. This year, as in the past, ADPAC directly solicits members of the HOD for membership. Two thousand eleven set a new threshold, as giving to ADPAC eclipsed the $300,000 mark, reaching a total of $326,426. The previous record had been $299,000. Through the financial contributions of member dentists, ADPAC  works to elect congressional candidates who understand the importance of dentistry. Regardless of party affiliation, ADPAC supports candidates who will be strong advocates  for dentists and the patients we serve. 
 
Health Benefit Exchange
By January 1, 2013, every state must be able to demonstrate that it is capable of having a functioning health benefit exchange up and running by January 1, 2014 or face  the prospect of ceding that authority to the federal government. To meet this timeline, many of the decisions will have to have been made by the states by mid-2012. As we continue learn more about the requirements, the ADA will provide as much information to the states as possible. This offers a great challenge for the dental community. I am confident we will work tirelessly on this over the next few months. 
 
Third Party Issues
Another area we must address is the growing concern I have over third-party involvement/influence. In addition to all the problems and concern we continually have with some third parties, the ever increasing reduction of reimbursement rates across the country is alarming. We must be very careful in dealing with this issue, remembering the  insurance industry is exempt from antitrust regulations and we are not. Until the repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act which provides that exemption, we need to be careful  of what we say to avoid FTC action. 
 
The To-Do List Is Never Finished
I also hope we will start to reframe the preventive discussion based upon caries risk assessment. As we know, one size does not fit everyone. If that is not enough, we need  to see what, if anything, we can do to address the ever increasing concern I have with student debt. 
 
If we get all that done along with the day-to-day needs of the Association, my final year on the Board will be a success. This will undoubtedly be my last message to you for  this calendar year as well. I wish you all a very happy holiday season and all the best in the New Year. 
 
As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns or comments at vignae@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.