This is the time of year when we think of
resolutions and new beginnings. It is also a time to roll up our sleeves and
get to work! The following is a review of MDA actions taken on behalf of our
members. Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let me know.
I am very excited about our association’s recently
updated website at www.mndental.org. There you will not only find valuable
information about the MDA, your district, and the benefits available through
your membership, but a wonderful resource for legislative issues, calendar of
events, and much more. Look through the public portion and refer your patients
to the information available. Every member of the MDA staff contributed to the
design and content of the site. I would like to thank them for their input and
wonderful work. The site will continue to evolve as new information is
recently received our first “MDA News and Views”. We will be using this
newsletter to provide you with timely news regarding Association business and
issues of critical importance to the practice of dentistry. This electronic
format will also ask for your feedback on important issues, giving you an
opportunity to voice your opinion. Please forward your current e-mail address
to the MDA if you have not received this communication.
will continue with our “MDA News” mailings. However, electronic communications
will allow us to act more immediately on behalf of our membership. The health
care decision-making environment is changing very rapidly. Immediate and
decisive action is becoming more important, and updated e-mail correspondence
will allow for more rapid legislative alerts and calls to action.
By now you should have received the MDA’s
legislative agenda for 2008 on multiple occasions. The House of Delegates has
voted to pursue several issues important to dentistry, including the following.
• Access to dental care for the underserved is an overriding issue for the MDA.
o It is a problem area that is visible to legislators and a priority for them.
o The MDA will have a bill proposing legislative solutions to dental access (see
the December MDA News).
o A group is proposing an Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner (ADHP) to the
legislature. The MDA opposes this. (See my December 21 letter to you for more
o The ADA and MDA have a proposal for a Community Dental Health Coordinator
(CDHC) that would help with access to dental care in underserved areas, without the objectionable elements
of the ADHP.
• Require third-party payers to reimburse for the provider tax when itemized on a
• Address the internationally-educated dentists’ licensure law. See the new
electronic newsletter “MDA News and Views” for more information.
• Legislators and the Governor will be proposing major health care reform ideas
that the MDA will need to monitor and address.
The legislature is clear in its desire to improve
access to care for all Minnesotans, and it is also clear that a “just say no”
approach will not help forward issues important to dentists. We are offering
proposals that will give legislators excellent alternatives that will address
access to care while maintaining the dental team dynamic and keeping the
patient’s safety paramount. Careful thought and strategic planning with our
lobbyists, the ADA, and our consulting partners have gone into our approach,
but we will need your help.
We have had two successful grassroots events around
the state, and plan for more. It is important for the membership to gather to
have the opportunity to discuss the issues. Grassroots efforts are the key to
successfully educating your legislators. You will be contacted to rise to
action, but don’t wait until then. Take the opportunity to talk with your
hometown legislator today. Remember, you are the dental experts. Dental Day at
the Capitol is February 27. Mark this on your calendar and plan to attend.
Governmental Affairs Staff
The House of Delegates voted to increase our
commitment to our lobbying effort by developing a Governmental Affairs position
within the MDA. Committing your dues dollars to a full-time staff position will
allow the MDA to pursue a more focused approach to staying ahead of the
changing environment in the legislature and the health care arena.
have been identified and several interviews have been conducted to find the
right person who will be as passionate about these issues as we are. We will
keep you informed of our progress in this
The MDA and district leadership have recently spent
time in mega-issue sessions investigating two issues in more depth. The first
was a presentation by the Dental Program Director of Tenn-Care. This is a
state-run and state-funded program in Tennessee that has been carved out of the
medical system for public programs, and it is successful! This carve-out has
been the basis of our legislative plan to help fix the broken system currently
will also hear a presentation by the Maine Dental Association that will have
occurred shortly after this article was written. Maine has received support
from the ADA in their public affairs efforts, with many lessons learned and
successes to share. Their issues are similar to ours and their strategic
planning history will shorten our learning curve at a critically important time
for the MDA.
Bringing It Home
I want to thank all of you who participate with the
Give Kids a Smile Program. It is a rewarding experience and another example of
the generosity of Minnesota dentists.
MDA will be holding a symposium on collaborative agreements February 29 in St.
Cloud. Look for registration materials to arrive. You are encouraged to attend
to learn more about this unique working relationship between a dentist and a
have recently received your preliminary program book for this year’s Star of
the North Meeting. The meeting is earlier than usual this year, and has a new
format. The dates of this year’s meeting are April 10-12. The Early Bird
registration deadline is March 3, and the deadline for registering in advance
is March 17.
In summary, passion for our profession is not
something I would ever question in any of our members. It takes a special
person to be successful in dentistry, and it is a person who cares. Given all
of this, it is more important than ever for you to be involved. My wish is that
the current health care debate will get you to rise up and take action. We
encourage you to be informed and to talk with your local legislators about
these topics. Look for specific requests from the MDA for you to contact your
local legislators. Please support dentistry, our patients, and the activities
of the MDA.
*Dr. Sledd is the president of the
Minnesota Dental Association for 2007-2008. She is a general dentist in private
practice in Maple Grove, Minnesota. E-mail is