In September of 2012, I was installed as MDA president, and I made a promise to devote my fullest potential in leading this organization and putting forward the necessary effort to effect change. As my term as president draws to a close and I begin to reflect upon this last year, I can honestly tell you without reservation that we have one of the best dental organizations in the country. The dedication of your Board of Trustees, district leaders, and countless volunteers truly makes us an outstanding association.
We experienced many successes this past year and laid the groundwork for a promising future of success. My regular column in Northwest Dentistry was intended to update you all on the myriad of activities in which the MDA is engaged on a day-to-day basis. In my last report, I will continue in that direction and provide a succinct recap of several activities we engaged in the last several months. I hope that my passion for this organization and the profession we represent came through in my column with as much conviction and dedication as I have in my heart for the profession of dentistry.
First and foremost, let me begin by thanking you all for giving me the honor of serving as your president. The honor is one that I hold in high regard and will cherish forever. Secondly, I thank the wonderful group of individuals with whom I have had the pleasure of serving on the MDA Board of Trustees. The Board’s dedication and commitment to serving the MDA members is unparalleled. Serving can take you away from work and family, often overnight. We are all grateful for your service. We held more than six meetings of the Board and more than ten meetings of the Executive Committee. In addition, many board members attend committee meetings, conferences, and various other events throughout the year serving as ambassadors. Furthermore, board members participated in our longstanding Connection Conferences. These conferences provide a forum for leaders within the profession to come together and discuss issues affecting the profession.
I would be remiss if I did not also thank the MDA staff for their tremendous support. Their enthusiasm and hard work allow me and the Board to govern this association with relative ease. The MDA building is an inviting place, and if you are ever in the area do not hesitate to stop in and say hello. The staff is ready and willing to welcome you to YOUR building.
Below, I highlight just a few of the many activities in which the MDA was engaged over the last several months. It by no means covers the depth and breadth of all that we do. As president, you really get a new-found appreciation for all that the MDA does on behalf of the profession.
Since taking office in September, I have attended numerous district events. We have some of the most active components in the country. I enjoyed meeting with district leaders, and I was honored to be present during the Northwestern District’s centennial banquet in Mentor, Minnesota. I attended several other district meetings, including Midwinter Meetings for Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Their programs were excellent, and that is, no doubt, due to the hard work of the many district leaders, including Kathy Krauter and Michelle Quade, the Executive Directors of the Saint Paul and Minneapolis districts, respectively.
I once again had the pleasure of attending and participating in the Mission of Mercy. The 2013 Minnesota Mission of Mercy in Bemidji was a huge success. The more than 1,300 volunteers are a testament to the value this program brings to the profession and the patients it serves. I thank each and every one who participated. We could not have done it without your support.
My travels as president were not limited to Minnesota. In the spring, President-Elect Mike Perpich, ADA 10th District Trustee Jim Zenk, Executive Director Carmelo Cinqueonce, and I attended the ADA Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. I also had the opportunity to attend the state of Maine’s legislative hearing on mid-level providers. At the request of the Maine Dental Association, I presented testimony shedding light on the current state of dental therapy in Minnesota. I received a warm welcome from the dentists in Maine and was invited to attend their Board of Dentistry meeting while there.
This past year we also stepped up our media outreach. Through the MDA’s communications department, we were successful in placing commentary pieces in several newspapers throughout the state. Our efforts were designed to complement our legislative efforts. Pleading our case to various editorial boards was a strategic effort. One highlight was landing a full- blown commentary piece in the Star Tribune arguing in favor of fixing a broken Medicaid program. In addition to politically focused pieces, the MDA developed non-political editorials geared toward raising the general public’s awareness of overall oral health issues. Working with individual board members, our communications department was successful in placing several pieces in board members’ respective community papers. I am pleased to see our renewed efforts in media outreach, and believe regular placement of positive promotional pieces will work toward highlighting good oral health.
As I have reported in my previous column, we no doubt had a very aggressive legislative session. The reports from the Office of the Legislative Auditor and the Minnesota Department of Public Health presented an unprecedented opportunity to educate policy makers on the pressing issues impacting dentistry. Those who turned out for Dental Day at the Capitol carried that message in meetings with their respective legislators. I personally thank you for taking time away from your practice and coming to Saint Paul to make your voice heard. I only hope that the number of dentists who attend continues to grow year after year. We need to overwhelm the State Capitol with our presence, and hence our voice. Please join me in making that a reality in coming years. As a brief summary of outcomes from this legislative session, I highlight the following: On January 1, 2014, there will be a 5% Medicaid reimbursement rate increase for all dental services. In a related item, the 3% rate cut from 2011 expired this past June. Private practices meeting certain requirements are once again eligible to participate in the Critical Access Dental Program; eligible practices receive a 35% payment supplement for public program patients. The Medical Assistance benefit set for adults was expanded to cover services for adults with special needs. And finally, a single dental administrator study will be undertaken. A full legislative report can be found on the MDA website: www.mndental.org
Our legislative efforts clearly do not end here. Our work continues, and the MDA is committed to efforts to educate legislators and policy makers on the issues important to the profession. But we cannot do that alone. It is imperative that every one of you gets involved, meets your representative, gets to know your representative, and educates your representative. This past year the MDA helped to coordinate “Meet and Greets” with legislators out in the districts. By all accounts, those meetings were very successful, and we plan on coordinating more in the coming year.
The MDA continues to be a leader nationally as well as regionally. This year the MDA is serving as host to the ADA’s 10th District meeting in New Orleans. As such, we are responsible for coordination of agendas and activities. Additionally, I am excited to share that the MDA will also be hosting the American Dental Association’s Political Action Committee’s (ADPAC) Board meeting in the summer of 2014. The items above only scratch the surface of the activities in which I participated and those in which the MDA participates. The future of organized dentistry, and hence the ability for us to continue to do the work that we do, relies on you. Without the support of members, the MDA does not exist. Our membership numbers stand steady despite a national trend of declining participation across all associations irrespective of profession or industry represented. Nevertheless, membership rates continue to be a focal point, particularly as demographic changes continue to occur in our profession. This past year the MDA received a grant from the ADA to continue efforts in recruiting dentists employed in large group practices. We have made some great strides, but much work is still ahead.
In closing, it truly has been a pleasure serving as your president. It has been an honor to lead the MDA. Thank you.
*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