Several aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have important implications for dentists as both oral health care professionals and small business employers, as well as consumers of medical care. Much of the effect of the ACA on health care in general and on dentistry in particular remains uncertain at this stage. The oral health landscape is changing and we need to understand what this means to dental practices and organized dentistry.
The Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) held an Oral Health Summit on June 7, 2013, to educate current and future oral health leaders in Massachusetts and the ADA First District on the ACA and other contributing factors that will have an impact on dentistry. Attendees learned that in upcoming years, there will be systemic changes in the way oral health care is delivered, evaluated, reimbursed, and integrated with other health care. Dentists may have to change their business practice in order to align with the new integrated delivery systems. The Oral Health Summit focused on educating attendees on this new landscape and how it will redefine oral health care.
Highlights from the New England Oral Health Summit
Recognizing the changes to oral health care that will result from the current focus on health care delivery and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) convened the Oral Health Summit. As leaders in the field, Ralph Fuccillo, DentaQuest chief mission officer and DentaQuest Foundation president, and Dr. Robert Compton, DentaQuest Institute executive director, collaborated with the MDS to educate current and future oral health professionals.
“Dentists from across New England came to the Summit because they care about their patients and improving oral health,” says Fuccillo. “I am honored to join with the Massachusetts Dental Society Foundation in working together to identify and create opportunities that are mutually reinforcing. Change is not easy and it is important to support one another as we chart new paths. Through our actions at the Summit, we are experiencing the concept of ‘collective impact’—the sense of what we can accomplish together compared with the challenges of moving forward alone in the face of change.”
Fuccillo and MDS President Dr. Paula K. Friedman encouraged professionals and communities to work together to make sure that dentists and oral health professionals are involved in shaping the future of health care delivery and reform. An estimated 1 in 5 (about 17 million) children go without dental care each year, but beginning in 2014, individual and small group health plans will offer essential pediatric dental benefits, giving access to nearly 27 million children.
Dr. Compton, a nationally recognized leader on dental quality, dental reimbursement, dental analytics and oral health, provided a primer on how the federal government will be measuring care quality, costs, and outcomes. “A goal of the Affordable Care Act is to improve health outcomes, improve efficiency of care and reduce costs,” says Compton. “The federal government has
made it clear that it will be measuring and publishing information on quality of care. Dental care providers need to understand how [they] will be measuring quality.”
More than 200 dental professionals and others from across New England participated in the Summit and brought a variety of perspectives to the table. They spent the morning hearing from speakers about the current health care delivery environment. The afternoon was spent interacting with a panel and in group sessions to develop messages for dental care providers across New England about the future impact of that environment on oral health care delivery and how they can be involved.
“This Summit was a vision I had at the beginning of my MDS presidency, and I am thrilled that it has become a reality,” says Dr. Friedman. “The goal of this Summit is to educate current and future oral health leaders on the Affordable Care Act and other contributing factors that will have an impact on dentistry. Change is on the horizon, and system changes will affect many stakeholders. I see this Summit as just the beginning of the conversation and anticipate that the dialogue and action plan will continue over many years.”
Watch Short Video Clips from the Summit
New England Oral Health Summit Presentations
"The New Dental Environment: ACA Reform"—Patrick Finnerty, oral health executive consultant
"Practicing in the New Dental Environment"—Marko Vujici, PhD, vice president of the ADA Health Policy Resource Center
"Quality Standards of Care/Outcomes in Dentistry"—Dr. Robert Compton, executive director, DentaQuest Institute
Attendees were asked to read these two ACA articles in preparation for the New England Oral Health Summit.
New England Oral Health Summit Speakers
Ready or Not—Health Care Delivery System Is Changing: ACA Reform
Chester Douglass, DMD, MPH, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Harvard School of Dental Medicine
The New Dental Environment
Pat Finnerty, former Medicaid director of Virginia, oral health consultant
Quality/Standards of Care/Outcomes in Dentistry
Robert Compton, DDS, executive director, DentaQuest Institute
Practicing in the New Dental Environment
Panel: (insurance, finance, practice management)
Please contact Ellen Factor, director of dental practice, if you have any questions at (508) 449-6028.
Thank you for your interest in the Oral Health Summit. Registration is now closed. We have reached capacity, speaker summaries will be available and posted on the Massachusetts Dental Society website after the Summit.