Moments after being installed as the ADA’s 156th President this fall, I made a promise during my address to the House of Delegates, and I went to work as a servant leader in representing the highest ideals of the dental profession. In the three months since stepping into this role, I have become even more convinced of the need to position the American Dental Association as the voice of dentistry, a guardian of public health, and a relevant resource for dentists everywhere.
This work, at its essence, is about three things—dentists helping dentists, dentists helping patients, and the ADA helping you. Together with other ADA leaders and staff, I am striving to make progress on these key priorities. Here are a few updates on what we’ve accomplished in the last 90 days.
Filing Suit Against Delta Dental
Last month, the ADA filed a class action lawsuit against Delta Dental plans and the Delta Dental Plans Association. We contend that Delta’s member companies have engaged in anticompetitive practices that violate the antitrust laws. You can read more about this here.
Expanding ADA Practice Transitions
After launching a successful pilot in Maine and Wisconsin this summer, ADA Practice Transitions has been expanded to include Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, and New Hampshire. ADAPT helps all dentists who want to buy, sell, or join a practice find the right fit for their needs. I’m pleased to see the program grow and guide dentists at different stages of their careers, whether they are new graduates or near retirement.
Meeting with White House Council and Health Policy Chiefs
I traveled to Washington, D.C., in October for a meeting with the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, where we discussed a major item on the ADA’s advocacy agenda—the repeal of the anti-trust exemption of the McCarran-Ferguson Act. This amendment (which would allow for the enforcement of the full range of federal antitrust laws against insurance companies) could spark competition in the health and dental insurance market place, resulting in more options and lower health care costs for patients.
My D.C. trip culminated in a conversation about access to care and water fluoridation with Rear Adm. Timothy L. Ricks, chief dental officer for the U.S. Public Health Service, and Dr. James Taylor, chief dental officer in the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Setting the Record Straight on FDA Citizen Petition and Commending Teledentistry Legislation
In early October, SmileDirectClub (SDC) publicly misstated that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had dismissed the ADA’s citizen petition regarding the safety of direct-to-consumer teeth aligners. The ADA immediately clarified SDC’s inaccurate statement and ran digital advertisements with The New York Times and USA Today. The fact is that the petition (which remained open for public comment until a pre-established Oct. 22 deadline) had not been dismissed and is currently pending before the FDA.
These efforts came just as California passed a law offering patient protections for teledentistry. Assembly Bill 1519 goes into effect on January 1 and requires dental care administered remotely to be on par with the care that patients would receive in a physical dental office. This legislation keeps a dentist involved every step of the way and ensures that patients have recourse if they receive treatment that falls below standard. The ADA applauds California and other states that have made progress on similar legislation.
Taking a Stand on Vaping
In September, as public interest grew about the potential negative health effects of vaping, the House of Delegates passed a resolution indicating that the word “vaping” (along with other modes of nicotine delivery) be included in the ADA policy on tobacco and non-tobacco products. Resolution 84H-2019 is the ADA’s first step toward addressing the long-term impact that the use of e-cigarettes or similar devices may have on a person’s oral health. The ADA is also pleased to support the Congressional Caucus to End the Youth Vaping Epidemic, which is looking at ways to curb the use of vaping devices in teens and young adults.
Last month, Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin (the ADA’s executive director) and I submitted a letter to the U.S. Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, asking legislators to consider passing the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019. Among other provisions, the bill would regulate vaping devices and liquids in the same manner as cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Although further research is needed on the oral health effects of vaping, literature suggests that vaping is linked to first-time and continuing tobacco use.
I hope you’re proud of what the ADA has done recently for our profession, our patients, and the public. Connecting with dentists is an essential part of my job.
I bring all of you with me to the ADA Boardroom. If an issue is important to you and is not currently on our ADA agenda, I want to hear from you. Send me your comments and suggestions anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in service,
|Chad Gehani, DDS
President, American Dental Association