Mike Maroon, DMD
Recently, there has been a lot of rhetoric and debate on the plight of our profession. Each of us is being drawn in different directions every day. There is good reason for our concerns. All you have to do is look at the current state of the medical profession to realize that the dental profession is at a very important crossroads.
Choosing the correct path will not be easy. For every right path, there is a wrong one. Every dentist`s choice must be made on personal decisions.
I believe there are only two choices: the salvation of fee-for-service dentistry or the managed-care fiasco! I write this letter to those of you who want to save fee-for-service dentistry. It is meant to serve as a spark to light the fuse of a revolution in dentistry - an explosion into a new era.
I believe that we can make a difference! I believe that we can stand up and win against the insurance industry and venture capitalists! I believe in the resolve of those dentists willing to fight for their profession! Let the revolution begin!
To this ends, I ask that each of you interested in any or all of the above points, write the following letter to the leaders of organized dentistry on a local, state, and national level. This is your chance to make your voice heard. If you do not fight for your profession now, you may never get another chance. Let yourself be heard ... stand tall and make a difference!
I have written the letter below as a template for you, the individual dentist, to take action. I urge you not to let this opportunity pass! Make a commitment to save fee-for-service dentistry and let us all stand together and prove to the rest of the country that you still can fight for what you believe in ... and win!
Dear (President, President-Elect, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Trustee):
I, as a dues-paying member of the American Dental Association, expect the following of the elected leaders of my association:
- That you recognize that I must always do what is right for my patients, despite the restrictive demands of third-party payers.
I commend the ADA for promoting direct reimbursement and urge it to create a task force made up of the best minds in our profession, to evaluate new and improved methods of delivery and reimbursement for dental care. Therefore, I expect the ADA to continue its promotion of direct reimbursement and constantly evaluate new and improved methods of delivery and reimbursement for dental care.
- That I have a right to stand together, with other individual dentists or group practices, against the outside forces that are trying to invade my profession. I should be able to fight back without the threat of government intervention.
Therefore, I expect the ADA to utilize its resources to mount an effective challenge to the current anti-trust laws of the United States government, to allow me to accomplish this goal. This program should begin no later than Nov. 1, 1997.
- That I must educate myself and my staff on the emerging technological breakthroughs in our profession on a continual basis, allowing me to provide optimum treatment for my patients and allowing me to remain focused throughout my career.
Therefore, I expect the ADA to develop and maintain guidelines for mandatory continuing education as a requirement of membership. This should be a minimum of 75 hours per year, and should be distributed fairly, to update me on the many different specialty and nonspecialty areas of dental practice. These guidelines should be developed and placed into effect no later than Nov. 1, 1997.
- That I must educate my patients on the emerging technological breakthroughs in our profession through the use of multi-media advertising including, but not limited to, television, radio, newspapers and the emerging information superhighway.
Therefore, I expect the ADA to institute a national marketing campaign, in an expeditious and efficient manner, to promote the positive preventive and elective dental procedures available to my patients. I will be willing to fund this campaign through an increase in my annual dues, up to $1,000/year, of which the total amount will go to this campaign exclusively. The ADA should begin implementation of this campaign no later than Nov. 1, 1997.
- That our organization must encourage the brightest and most enthusiastic minds of succeeding generations to choose dentistry as their career, and we must make it easier and more appealing for them to do so. We must help newly-graduated colleagues to select the correct path before they graduate, by having a network of mentors available to share their knowledge and wisdom.
Therefore, I expect the ADA to implement a nationwide marketing campaign, to encourage the brightest and most enthusiastic minds of younger generations to choose dentistry as their career. This should include dental hygiene and dental assisting as well. I also expect the ADA to develop a list of potential mentors, who will be willing to share their success and knowledge with dental students to encourage them to select a lifetime of service through high-quality, fee-for-service dentistry. The ADA should begin implementation of these campaigns no later than Nov. 1, 1997.
- That to combat the ever-rising cost of delivery of dental care, I must make use of highly-skilled and well-trained auxiliaries to provide services for patients within the legal limits of the laws of my state.
Therefore, I expect the ADA to develop national guidelines to guide the expanded duties of my auxiliaries, which will allow them to provide additional services under my guidance and supervision. If the laws of my state are too restrictive, then the ADA must work expeditiously and assertively to change these laws. The ADA should develop these national guidelines for auxiliaries, with the help of the ADHA and the ADAA, along with the guidance of the leaders of our profession. These guidelines should be determined no later than Nov. 1, 1997.
- That I have a right to choose for whom I provide treatment, and I should not be forced, against my will, to treat any individual who I do not want to treat. Furthermore, I should not be threatened with lawsuits and attacks against me and my family.
Therefore, I expect the ADA to support my freedom to choose to provide or not to provide dentistry for patients, based on my personal decisions, and to support the right of my fellow member dentists to have freedom of choice. I also expect the ADA to fight for my rights through our country`s legal system. This should be developed and underway no later than Nov. 1, 1997.
- That if I choose to provide an alternative dental treatment, other than that "accepted" by a third-party carrier, and if that treatment is widely accepted around the country by my colleagues as a satisfactory alternative dental treatment, I expect my organization to support me.
Therefore, I expect the ADA to take an active role in protecting me, one of its member dentists, and to use every legal action available, within the limits of the law, to protect me from damages to my character, my career and my self-worth. The ADA should not cautiously sit on the sidelines, issuing "no comment" statements. Guidelines for dealing with these situations should be developed no later than Nov. 1, 1997.
I expect these things from my organization and ask the help of the leaders of my profession, because I am being pressured by forces beyond my control to make changes that are not in the best interests of my patients, my staff, or myself. I believe in the power of my organization, and this is why I ask for its help.
I appreciate your dedication, hard work and commitment, and look forward to working together to save our wonderful profession.
Your friend in health,
Mike Maroon, DMD
Mike Maroon, DMD, has successfully converted his insurance-dependent practice into an insurance-independent esthetic dental practice. He is publisher of The Dental Leader, a bimonthly newsletter devoted to practice management philosophy and clinical techniques. He can be reached at 39 Webster Square Road, Berlin, CT 06037 or call (860) 828-3933.