Several state dental organizations are supporters of Dentist Day in Annapolis. These include the MSDA, the Maryland Dental Society, the Maryland Association of Pediatric Dentistry, The Maryland Children’s Oral Health Institute and the Maryland Academy of General Dentistry. According to MSDA Lobbyist Mr. Dan Doherty, this is a crucial year for each MSDA member to meet and get to know their legislators. After last November’s election, there are many changes in Annapolis besides a new Governor, Larry Hogan. The Maryland House of Delegates is undergoing a 40% membership change while the Maryland Senate membership will change by 23%. Besides many new faces, there will be changes in leadership in many committees that hear testimony on dental issues. Each Maryland state legislator will be informed that "Dentist Day” is approaching and to expect visits from dentists within their constituency. Visiting dentists will be given a packet to give to each of their legislators. Each packet contains information about organized dentistry in Maryland and dentistry’s position on several bills. It is our hope that between where you live and work, we will have a Maryland dentists visit with delegates and senators from all 47 legislative districts. Although you may not have an opportunity to meet with all your legislators in person, I have found interacting with legislative staff and aides also can be very rewarding.
"Dentist Day” starts at 8am and runs until about 2pm. We meet on the ground floor of the historic Calvert House 58 State Circle in Annapolis. Parking garages are available in Downtown Annapolis but limited and I prefer to ride the MSDA shuttle bus. MSDA staffer Peter Holmes has arranged for continuous convenient shuttle service from the United States Naval Academy Stadium to College Avenue and North Street, as well as the return trip. The parking lot is located near the Navy/Marine Corps Stadium at the Taylor Avenue Entrance (Gate #5 near the Blue Angel Plane). The MSDA bus will take you to the drop off/pick up spot at College Avenue near North Street, it is a two block walk to State Circle and the Calvert House. As you will see, State Circle is beautiful circling the State House but too narrow to negotiate a bus! The shuttle runs about every 10-20 minute and will be marked MSDA verses the trolley buses that also leave the same lot but take a longer route. The shuttle is free but there is a nominal charge for the parking lot. Our MSDA shuttle will run from 7:30am to 7:30pm so if you want to spend time walking the cobblestone streets of Annapolis after "Dentist Day”, feel free! Remember, when returning to your car, pick up the MSDA shuttle bus at the corner of College Avenue and North Street where you were dropped off originally.
Once at the Calvert House, enjoy a continental breakfast as you register and pick up your visitation materials. At 8:15am we will start with Welcoming Remarks and outline our legislative agenda for this year. Usually between 8:30 and 9am we will break to start our Senate/House Visitations. If you have never attended "Dentist Day” before, we will try to pair you with a veteran of "Dentist Day” to help show you around the various offices. My best advice is to go to the web site
Lunch is provided at the Calvert House at Noon followed by a debriefing during which we can review any questions that may require follow up or comments received during our visits. Also during the day we will have a presentation of the "MSDA 2013 Legislator of the Year Awards”. This year we will recognize two former state legislators who helped pass key dispensing legislation last year and have a deep interest in the oral health of Marylanders, Delegate Donald "Doc” Elliott and Senator Roy Dyson. These former legislators have been particularly supportive of dentistry and are both very deserving of this special recognition.
As of this writing, it is too early to know what legislation we will be in favor of or opposed but I will highlight some of the important dental issues discussed at the recent MSDA "Roundtable”:
ADA House of Delegates Resolution 2000:462 states that "the Association supports the conviction…that the health interests of patients are best protected when dental practices…are owned and controlled by a dentist licensed in the jurisdiction where the practice is located”. Further, Resolution 2011:491 states "that licensing authorities be urged to establish regulations which hold entities providing dental services that are owned by non-dentists or dentists not licensed in the state to the same ethical and legal standards as those that are owned by state licensed dentists”. MSDA House of Delegates Resolution 14:104RC supports the concept that ownership and clinical treatment decisions be made by dentists with a current Maryland Dental License. It is likely there could proposed legislation sponsored by corporate entities to limit the State Dental Boards ability to regulate dental practice ownership.
Although actual legislation is not likely, since this past spring there have been small groups around the state hoping to eliminate the addition of fluoride into the municipal water supply. It is imperative that each MSDA member educate their legislators on the dental benefits of fluoride in the water supply. The ADA House of Delegates recently approved a social media campaign on the benefits of fluoridation.
The MSDA has been very proactive in improving access to dental care. It is important that we educate legislators about our ongoing Donated Dental Services program (Maryland Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped) and our Mission of Mercy programs. In addition, this past year we started an Emergency Department (ED) Referral program as well as a Long Term Care Dental Initiative. The ADA Health Policy Institute Study on pilot ED Referral program concluded that such a statewide program for both pediatric and adult patients could save Maryland Medicaid up to $4 million per year.
The Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners (Board) is proposing three bills that may affect your dental license if passed. The "Grounds for Discipline” bill could put dental and dental hygiene licenses in jeopardy should you not report a colleague for suspected addiction or failure to maintain required licenses. If enacted, current referrals to Dental & Dental Hygiene Wellbeing Committees may suffer. Another section in the bill states grounds for discipline if a dentist "grossly over utilized dental services”. The MSDA Legislative Affairs Committee finds the language vague and subject to potential serious abuse. Further, the bill draft would allow discipline for "verbal abuse or harassment”. On the surface, that would be hard to oppose but as written leads to potential charges if you chastise a patient for not following instructions or direct your staff to call for payment on an overdue bill.
The second bill deals with "Practicing without a License”. The intent of the bill gives the Board authority to deal with dentists who don’t hold a dental license. But the draft bill goes beyond that. Several sections apply to currently licensed dentists who could be serve "cease and desist orders” without due process. As written, MSDA opposes this legislation.
The third proposed bill entitled "Examination of Dentists, Dental Hygienists, and Dental Assistants” would allow the Board to force an applicant or a licensee to submit to a mental or physical examination. The bill provides that the acceptance of licensure by a dentist constitutes the giving of consent to allow that the Board may require that an individual submit to such an examination. Further, accepting licensure would also constitute a waiver of all confidentiality privileges that exist between doctor/patient of medical records. Further, this bill would eliminate the confidentiality of peer review and the impaired dentist program. Failure or refusal to submit to such an examination would be evidence that the individual is incompetent to practice dentistry and that person would have to cease practicing dentistry immediately. For these reasons, MSDA opposes this legislation.
The Legislative Affairs Committee of the MSDA will keep you informed as the legislative session progresses. We hope the information noted above will motivate you to take a day off to attend. A day off now will eliminate potential headaches for your dental practice in the future. Registration may be done here. A charge of $50 is included breakfast & Lunch and helps defray some of the cost involved in providing such a worthwhile program. I look forward to seeing you February 25! Don’t forget to bring business cards, wear comfortable dress shoes, call ahead and schedule appointments to meet your legislators, and bring your ID for security checks.