“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” John F. Kennedy

“There are no such things as limits to growth, because there are no limits to the human capacity for intelligence, imagination, and wonder.” Ronald Reagan

We live in a world that is rapidly changing. New technologies are emerging at a record pace, industry landscapes are shifting, and traditional business models are being challenged. Few associations can coast into the future assured of their relevance and sustainability.

To survive, associations need to secure their short-term survival while ensuring they are well-positioned to succeed in the future. Over the past year, the Georgia Dental Association leadership team has focused on strategies that will ensure the association not only survives, but thrives. As you will read, work is underway on a new strategic plan. We are developing the plan along key results areas we will call “The Four Cornerstones.” This update on your association’s activities is arranged in these areas as well.

1. Legislation/Policy
2. PR/Media/Communications
3. Member Practice Services/Education
4. Business/Non-Dues Services

Exciting member benefits will roll out in coming months, a multi-year media campaign is in development, and we are strengthening our legislative advocacy to address important issues such as dental student loan repayment, a dental Medicaid single administrator, and community water fluoridation. I had the distinct pleasure of hosting the officers from the GDA districts along with our governmental affairs team leaders last fall to discuss our legislative agenda and inform the leadership that our team was exceptionally prepared to accomplish every legislative goal we set.

At the same time, we continue to enhance member services. You won’t want to miss this year’s Annual Meeting in July which will offer dynamic speakers and sessions, along with networking events and activities for the whole family. Our keynote speaker is Herman Cain, the noted former presidential candidate, national radio show host, and author. Your family will enjoy the amenities offered at the The Omni Amelia Island Plantation in Amelia Island, Florida.

I’ve never been more enthusiastic about what lies ahead for the GDA and the heightened services and support for our members. We are facing the future head-on.   

GDA Buying Cooperative Could Save Members Tens of Thousands of Dollars Per Year
I hope that you have already participated in the buying cooperative feasibility survey conducted by the GDA and Kevin Cain, PhD, a Georgia Regents University Hull College of Business Assistant Professor of Management. Your willingness to share information about your practice will enable the GDA to determine the potential for success of an association-supported buying cooperative.

There is a lot of exciting energy being generated around the potential member benefits associated with a group purchasing initiative. What would you think about a member benefit that could save your dental office tens of thousands of dollars per year on the items you use daily? Stay tuned—big things are on the horizon for GDA members.

GDIS Values for Members
Georgia Dental Insurance Services (GDIS) continues to reign as one of the top agencies in the nation offering professional liability coverage from Medical Protective thanks to outstanding partners and service by our team of insurance experts. GDIS implemented a health insurance portal via the GDA website during open enrollment in 2014. By visiting the portal, members could select individual or family plans through the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia exchanges, as well as purchase Medicare supplemental insurance. This new offering experienced some success.

GDA Seeks Funding for a Dental Student Loan Repayment Program
The GDA’s top legislative priority for 2015 is to reinstate a state-funded dental student loan repayment program that would provide service cancelable loans to dentists to repay dental education debt in return for practicing in underserved rural areas. This program, which experienced great success in the 2000s but was lost to budget cuts during the recession, would increase the availability of comprehensive oral health care for rural citizens and bring needed economic growth to rural communities.

GDA Backs Single Administrator for Dental Medicaid, Tackles Unfair Insurance Practices, and Takes Stand on Scope Issues
The GDA is also working on a number of other legislative issues. House Bill 537 would require the state to contract with a single administrator for dental Medicaid benefits. The GDA has long supported the creation of a single administrator for Georgia’s Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids dental programs so that low-income children will continue to have access to the dental care they need and the state will realize administrative and cost efficiencies.

The GDA carried out the will of the House of Delegates in regards to House Bill 350. This bill would allow licensed dental hygienists to administer local anesthesia by block and infiltration under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist. Your House of Delegates voted previously to support the contention that only a dentist be allowed to administer local anesthesia in this manner in order to protect the patients of Georgia.

The GDA is working with other health care advocacy groups, including the Medical Association of Georgia, in support of Senate Bil l158, the Consumer and Provider Protection Act. This bill seeks to address a number of unfair tactics that insurers use in their contracts with health care providers including “all-products clauses,” unilateral contractual changes, and rental networks.

GDA Monitors Anti-Fluoridation Activities
This proven public health benefit of community water fluoridation is receiving negative attention in our state legislature during the 2015 session, and municipalities in Georgia and nationwide are debating fluoridation’s value. The GDA has secured a grant from the American Dental Association to advocate for community water fluoridation in Georgia. Visit www.gadental.org to find tools you can use to educate your patients about fluoridation during the 70th anniversary year of this public health milestone in 2015.

It’s Not Too Late to Back Your PAC
Do you donate to GADPAC? Only about 35 percent of our dentist members support the GDA Political Action Committee financially. PAC funds are sent to dental- and patient-friendly candidates running for local, state, and federal offices. We are a looking at a number of initiatives to boost our GADPAC giving percentage. Stay tuned for some special activities taking place at the 2015 Annual Meeting in regards to our keynote speaker Herman Cain.

GDA Monitors Mid-Level Provider Study Conducted by the Community Voices’ Program
Through a $400,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Sullivan Alliance in partnership with Atlanta’s “Community Voices’” initiative is exploring ways to make dental care accessible to more Americans. The initiative has a goal to “strengthen and expand the oral health workforce as one way to meet the needs of vulnerable children and families through the engagement of mid-level dental providers in Georgia, Mississippi and Florida.” The Sullivan Alliance and Community Voices’ are surveying dental providers, among other activities, and will publish a report this spring. The GDA fully expects the report to contain strong language advocating for the creation of mid-level providers in dentistry.

The GDA has significant research to demonstrate that workforce expansion, including the introduction of lesser trained mid-level providers, would not impact the access to care challenges that exist in our state. The GDA believes that only a dentist has the training and expertise necessary to properly diagnose and treat dental disease. Your Governmental Affairs team is monitoring this initiative, and with assistance from an American Dental Association State Public Affairs program grant will continue to promote the GDA’s position on the mid-level provider model in Georgia.

GDA Continues High Level of Advocacy on Dental Medicaid/PeachCare for Kids
The GDA submitted recommendations for the re-contracting of the Georgia Families Program, including the administration of the Care Management Organizations (CMOs) last fall. Our recommendations included, but were not limited to: 1) Eliminating pre-authorization requirements for common dental procedures; 2) Using only one Credential Verification office for oral health providers; 3) Re-calculating geo-access requirements to more realistic parameters; and 4) Requiring CMOs to increase reimbursement to 80 percent of market rates for preventive codes.

Now that the Request for Proposals for the new contracts has been released, the GDA is reviewing them carefully to prepare for further input and public comment. The well-being of the children served by the dental Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids programs, as can also be seen in our championing of the single administrator for dental Medicaid legislation under the Gold Dome, is at the top of our advocacy list.

Board of Dentistry Data Collection and Database Project Update
The GDA is spearheading the collation and data entry of census data obtained from the Georgia Board of Dentistry. The state gathered the census data as part of the 2013 dental and dental hygiene licensure renewal process. The GDA plans to employ this data to, among other things, examine how the Georgia dental workforce correlates to county and regional populations and determine the age ranges of dentists in the state. The GDA can also draw on the information we learn about Georgia dentists to enhance our GDA membership recruitment and retention efforts.

GDA Takes Steps to Implement a Comprehensive Public Relations Plan
The GDA will engage a marketing communications agency to conceptualize, develop, and implement a multi-year program to advance the profession of dentistry in Georgia. The campaign will target adults ages 18-64 with a slight skew toward women, who influence 80 percent of family health care decision making. The campaign will also target the media to combat misinformation and to communicate the value of dental care, as well as target lawmakers to protect oral health best practices, patient safety, educational standards, and the effectiveness of the profession.

The Public Relations Committee led by Dr. Robin Reich and supported by Senior Director of Marketing and Public Relations Carol Galbreath issued a Request for Proposal to several agencies in February. The committee evaluated presentations from three agencies in March and will announce their selection at the Board of Trustees meeting in April.

Like the GDA on Facebook!
The Georgia Dental Association has established a public Facebook page as a forum for public relations initiatives, such as National Brush Day. The page is a great source of association information. Like the GDA if you are active on the Facebook.com website.

GDA Gathers Significant Media Exposure on Give Kids a Smile Day on February 6
GDA members celebrated Give Kids A Smile Day on February 6 by providing free care to underserved children across the state. While we are still compiling the numbers, as of March 10, 60 GDA dentists have reported providing approximately $120,000 in free care to hundreds of children across the state.

Several GDA GKAS events were featured on television and in newspapers. Public Relations Chair Dr. Robin Reich and Senior Director of Marketing and Public Relations Carol Galbreath were featured on Channel 11 in Atlanta leading up to the big day talking about the GDA’s outreach efforts. The GDA has a list of news clips and videos on our website at www.gadental.org.

GMOM: Volunteer for the June 18-20, 2015 Event
The third Georgia Mission of Mercy (GMOM) is June 18-20, 2015. GMOM 2015 will be held at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry, Georgia. Our goal is to treat 2,000+ patients in just two days and highlight the oral health needs of citizens of Georgia. (June 18 will be a clinic set up day, with June 19 as a treatment day and June 20 as a treatment and tear down day.)
At GMOM, more than 100 dental chairs, treatment stations, a sterilization department, patient education, computerized patient registration system, and much more will be used to create a full scale dental clinic. An event of this magnitude requires hundreds of volunteers. Please visit www.georgiamissionofmercy.org to register as a volunteer. Who can volunteer? EVERYONE 18 years of age or older! Shifts will fill up quickly on a first-come, first-served basis. EVERY job at GMOM is important to our success. Don’t wait too long to sign up!

At this time, our focus is on volunteer recruitment and fundraising. The GDA will not begin patient outreach and public education until later in 2015.

Thanks to Those Dentists who Paid Their Dues to Become Members for 2015
The GDA mailed renewal dues statements to members starting in October 2014. The Recruitment and Retention Committee is examining membership trends and helping to identify the association programs that will appeal to and benefit our members the most. Of note, we must examine our dues structure. GDA dues have remained unchanged for nearly two decades while the challenges facing the association have most certainly changed. GDA dues have not increased since milk was $2.41 a gallon and gas was $1.11 a gallon.

Dental Recovery Network Works Behind the Scenes to Get Professionals Healthy
The Georgia Dental Association Dental Recovery Network (DRN) helps dentists and dental hygienists get their lives back on track by addressing their addiction challenges and getting them safely back to work. Program Director Jane Walter is a licensed counselor who has worked with the Georgia Dental Association for 13 years.

DRN representatives recently spoke to dental students at the Georgia Regents University College of Dental Medicine about addiction in the profession and received a letter of appreciation from GRU Associate Dean Dr. Carole Hanes. Dentist contributions to the Relief Fund made via dues statements help support this program.  

GDA Staff Members Addresses Dentist Questions About Third Party Issues
GDA staff members receive calls on a regular basis from GDA members and their staffs concerning issues with third party payers. Recent call topics have included denials for crowns, medical necessity issues, claims appeals, coordination of benefits, Medicare opt-in and opt-out, X-ray bundling, coding questions, and other provider contracting issues and questions.

2015 GDA Annual Meeting Navigating Change: It’s About Time
The Annual Meeting is July 23-26 at The Omni Amelia Island Plantation in Amelia Island, Florida. Contracts with the hotel and speakers have been executed, the CE program is set, and plans for the New Dentist reception are confirmed. Final preparations are being made for the Saturday dinner dance and family fun event. Noted author, executive, radio host, syndicated columnist, and former presidential candidate Herman Cain will be the keynote speaker. This will be an Annual Meeting like none you have experienced before.
You can make your room or villa reservations by visiting www.MeetGDA.com. Click the blue “hotel” button to access the link. Event registration opens April 1. Here is a preview of our CE lineup:


Protecting Patients and Practitioners
HIPAA and HITECH: Are You Audit Ready?
Linda Harvey, RDH, MS.

(2:30-3:30 p.m., 1 CEU) With the passage of the HITECH Act of 2009 and the 2013 Final Omnibus Rule, HIPAA compliance went from being viewed “simply as guidelines” to “enforced compliance” with mandatory audits, stiff fines, and penalties. These new laws impact the entire practice, including your employees and business associates. Building upon basic HIPAA knowledge, this course reviews the recent changes and introduces standard of care and identity theft issues associated with data breaches. Staff mishaps, random audits, or patient complaints could land you under the scrutiny of the Office of Civil Rights (the “HIPAA police”). Learn exactly what you need to do to protect patient health information and safeguard yourself and your practice against consequences.

Protecting the Profession:
Strategies for Maintaining Clinical Autonomy.
Kevin Cain, PhD,
Assistant Professor of Management,
Hull College of Business, Georgia Regents University.

(4-5 p.m., 1 CEU) Although still highly-fragmented, dentistry is in the early stages of industry consolidation. At the forefront of the consolidation process are dental service organizations (DSOs) or what most refer to as corporate dentists. As DSOs enter new markets and further saturate their existing markets, independent practitioners may fear that they will be unable to compete or that they may lose their clinical autonomy to consolidation. In this course, we will examine DSOs and discount procedure-based practices. We will look at their competitive advantages and discuss strategies about turning these practice models into opportunities for innovation.


The Truth Fairy:
Forensic Odontology and Its Contribution to our Field.
Holland Maness, DMD.
Program Director of the Graduate Orthodontic Program
University of Tennessee College of Dentistry and
Primary Forensic Odontologist, West Tennessee Forensic Center.

(1:30-3:30 P.M., 2 CEUs) Forensic odontology is one of the lesser known areas of dentistry, yet the subject always invokes intrigue and interest. As forensic odontology is defined as the overlap of dentistry and the law, it encompasses areas beyond identifications and bitemarks extending to civil litigation and age estimation. Dr. Maness will share her forensic journey as well as developments in the field. Demonstrations of procedures using case studies will illustrate what forensic dentistry can do and what it cannot do in our post-television CSI world. Attendees will learn the history and scientific rationale behind the forensic protocols of the American Board of Forensic Odontology. They will also learn of the challenges facing the field today and how Dr. Maness hopes to face those challenges.

Whole Person Care:
Dealing with Chronic Inflammation.
Laura D. Braswell, DDS,
Diplomate, American Board of Periodontology.

(4-5 p.m., 1 CEU) Oral inflammation has been linked to multiple systemic issues from arthritis to impotence. Join us to explore the oral/systemic connection and how we can better care for our patients as whole persons rather than simply teeth.


Do Dentistry, Not Time.
Roy S. Shelburne, DDS. The Appalachian
Dental Group of Jonesville, Virginia.

(8:30-10:30 a.m., 2 CEUs) Dr. Shelburne went to prison on August 20, 2008, and learned a series of lessons the hard way. It is possible to protect and defend a dental practice and to prevent what happened to him from happening to you. You can be ready in the event of a board complaint, insurance audit, malpractice claim, or criminal complaint. It is possible to implement systems that result in record keeping excellence. If it’s not in your clinical record, you didn’t see it, you didn’t say to, you didn’t do it, it didn’t need to be done, and it doesn’t exist from the legal perspective. In this course, we will learn to understand that what you don’t know can hurt you and that ignorance is no excuse. We will learn to assimilate and maintain records that can both protect and defend; and learn how to conduct records reviews and internal audits.

Sex, Drugs, and Oral Cancer ™.
Robert J. Whitman, MSE,
Director of Clinical Education at
Forward Science Technologies, LLC.

Presented in partnership with the Georgia Academy of General Dentistry.

(11-12:30 p.m., 1.5 CEUs) Recent trends in oral cancer have heightened the importance of an oral cancer screening protocol for all medical and dental professionals. Oral cancer has risen each of the past seven years, and the deforming disease is now affecting patients with no traditional risk factors. Due to a 225% increase in HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers, oral cancer is occurring in younger populations, changing the perception of who to screen.

With the need for a new oral cancer screening protocol, we will cover adjunctive screening options in detail. This course will introduce recent and emerging technologies for early discovery of oral cancer, including fluorescence technology and quantitative cytology along with the importance of proper implementation. Clinical examples of these procedures will also be provided.

Office Emergency Drug Kits:
What You Really Need to Have and Why.
Glenn Maron, DDS,
Chief of the Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Section
at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite.

(1:30-3:00 p.m., 1.5 CEUs) This course will teach practitioners how to prepare for, and prevent, an emergency in the dental office. You will bring back to your practice knowledge and skills in how to: 1) Assess patient risk and apply proper treatment planning principles; 2) Review the complex medical issues that many patients present with in today’s practice; 3) Identify and avoid potential medical complications before they arise; 4) Ensure that you and your staff are prepared to deal with the most common medical emergencies that can occur; 5) Update your practice emergency kit; 6) Sharpen and refresh your ability to treat the most common emergencies that can occur in the office by going through real life scenarios (just like BLS and CPR training, if you do not practice, you forget); and 7) Explain the need for “mock code” drills in your office.

Implant Rehabilitation and the Consequences of Poor Planning.
Andy Loetscher, DDS, MS and
Paul S. Kudyba Jr., DDS

(3:30-5:00 p.m., 1.5 CEUs) This presentation will focus on how to plan implant rehabilitation of the dentition. Emphasis will be placed on two topics: Full arch cases and the condition, number, and position of implants to provide for long-term stability and function. We will discuss avoiding pitfalls with the anterior esthetic implant with regards to site development and implant positioning. Attendees will leave with the knowledge to: 1. Understand the essentials needed to pre-plan implant cases to prevent future complications. 2. Make proper decisions regarding anterior implants to maximize esthetics and long-term stability. 3. Determine the decisions and treatment courses which may lead to complications and failure to meet patient expectations.