Happy New Year! As we enter 2013, I am happy to continue to report on the many activities in which the Minnesota Dental Association is engaged on behalf of the profession.
Report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor
We continue to anticipate the upcoming report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA), which will be looking at Minnesota’s MA program and dentist participation in it. As I mentioned in my last update,** the three core questions the report seeks to address are:
(1) To what extent do Minnesota dentists participate in the MA program?
(2) Does Minnesota’s MA program have reasonable payment rates for dentists, and
(3) What has been the impact of payment rates on levels of participation by dentists in the MA program?
Although we anticipate this report sometime in mid-February, the MDA is not sitting idly by. Your leadership is proactively putting forward legislation seeking a long overdue increase in reimbursement from the Department of Human Services - i.e., the MA program. As we aggressively work to educate legislators on the need for increases in reimbursement, the much anticipated OLA report will only serve to validate our argument.
Our goal is not simply to increase rates to dentists but to educate legislators on supporting a dental program that efficiently allocates dollars to their best use. We need a system of delivering care whereby our most needy patients can access the care they deserve from a dental practice in their community.
Emergency rooms provide a tremendous service, but they should not be a substitute for dental care that can be more efficiently and economically delivered in the community by a local dentist.
We fully recognize the fiscal realities of the state budget, but we must remember that we are advocating not for “new” dollars but for a reallocation of dollars that have already been spent by the state in an inefficient and economically imprudent manner.
Dental Day at the Capitol
Our Dental Day at the Capitol is scheduled for February 27. This day is dedicated to meeting with legislators and conveying our message. If you are not registered to attend, I urge you to do so today and come be a part of the process. Your participation is vital to our legislative success. Nothing makes a greater impact than constituents sharing their story on delivering dental care to Minnesotans. For more information on this very special event, please turn to page 38.
Star of the North Meeting 2013
Registration for the Star of the North Meeting, the MDA’s premier conference, is in full swing, and this year promises to be as great as the year before. As I travel the country attending other dental programs, I can tell you without hesitation that our program is consistently referenced as one of the best, if not THE best, programs in the country.
The New Year’s Resolution Campaign
This past December, the MDA embarked on a simple yet effective campaign to highlight the importance of preventive oral health. Dubbed the “New Year’s Resolution” campaign, MDA staff worked with our leadership to place guest editorials in local community papers emphasizing the need to make good oral care a New Year’s resolution. We were successful in placing the stories in several papers including two in my own community. This is part of a continued effort to raise awareness about the importance of good oral care without the rhetoric that is often encountered in the political arena.
Communication is Key
As we continue into 2013, you may notice some changes in how the MDA communicates with its members. We have undertaken a process to ensure that the MDA brand is presented consistently and uniformly across all communication venues, from email to flyers to information documents such as Legislative Issue Briefs. Our branding initiative will establish specific rules on things such as font and color usage, all with a goal to raise the level of professionalism in the MDA’s public appearance. Included in this effort will be a fresh look to our newly created electronic newsletter, News & Views. And while we hoped to have a new and improved website in 2013, there may be a delay in its launch, in order to incorporate changes the American Dental Association is making to its member database. Nevertheless, we will continually make minor modifications to our website to better serve you. We most recently enhanced the Government Affairs section of our website with new and updated information. I hope you have had an opportunity to visit our site.
This is just a brief sampling of the many things the MDA is working on. As we roll into the spring, you can be sure that the MDA continues to work tirelessly to represent the profession and to bring forward the services and benefits you have come to expect. Our goal is to move the ball forward in all aspects of the organization. Whether it is in government affairs, public relations, or internal operations, you have a dedicated group of officers and trustees working in concert with staff to make a difference. I hope to see you all at Dental Day at the Capitol and the Star of the North Meeting
*Dr. Flynn is the 2012-2013 president of the Minnesota Dental Association. He is a general dentist in private practice in Lewiston, Minnesota. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
**“President’s Report on Process and Progress at the MDA”, Northwest Dentistry, November-December 2012, page 6.