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The Week That Was: March 4-8

By Paul Roberts

March 8, 2024

Dental Day at the Capitol is a Big Success – Thank You Members!

It’s awesome to see a plan come together. We crow about the importance of advocacy all the time and how the MDA is blessed to have a sharp and experienced lobby team. But nothing replaces the value of members speaking directly with their elected officials about the issues that affect their practice every day. We asked you to give us one day of your time and you delivered. This past Wednesday we had around 80 members and dental students from across the state wearing colorful MDA tooth stickers and filling the halls of the Capitol. Everywhere you looked, groups of dentists were educating legislators about issues like assignment of benefits, virtual credit cards and dental loss ratio legislation. I was able to listen in on several, and I’m so proud of the way they represented the profession. Plus, there’s the whole secondary benefit of having time and space to interact with colleagues in our beautiful state Capitol. The day included a briefing by our onsite lobbyist, Nikki Strong, a group photo, a student photo, a recognition of the profession on the House floor, and a presentation to 2023 MDA Legislative Award winner, Representative Bishop Davidson, who championed MDA issues on many fronts. And to top It off, the weather was awesome.

Kudos to Halie Payne, Grace Riley and Melissa Albertson for their expert planning and hard work to make it a successful day for all. And thank you to all the members who gave time away from their practices to advocate for the profession. It’s a super-cool experience that every member should consider. Be sure to check our robust Flickr album for great photos and plan to join us for Dental Day at the Capitol 2025 on Wednesday, March 5.

MDA Leaders Gather at Summit to Discuss Change

After a power-packed morning under the dome, we pivoted to a power-packed afternoon at the MDA Headquarters. Our purpose was to assemble a wide swath of leaders from every component to gather and hear about pending changes that were coming from the ADA and what that might mean for the MDA. Dr. Jeremy Bowen, MDA President, presided over the Summit which began with Jeanine Pekkarinen, ADA Director, Tripartite Strategic Development & Relations and Deb Brisson, Manager, Tripartite Strategic Development & Relations, who shared about Fonteva, a new association management system, which will be much nimbler and allow for customization for the member user. This represents a major investment in the future. The next few months will be intense for staff as we train on the new system prior to its launch in July.

Not far on the heels of this change will come a change in the 2025 membership model. While many details still need to be finalized, the basics allow for just three categories (student, early career and all other dentists). Membership base fees will be lower, with options for certain packages that allow members to choose what’s valuable to them. There’s also going to be a loyalty reward program that allows a member to redeem points earned on products and services they care about. These two innovations combined are much more member centric and will only continue to improve as the model is refined with user feedback and learning. Feedback was cautiously optimistic as we await more details to come to light, but it was unanimously agreed that a system upgrade will be awesome for all.

The remainder of the time was spent looking at feedback from Missouri members about our own structures and offerings. How do we best adapt to remain attractive to new generations of members? Technology changes and new values require a thoughtful consideration of possible alternatives. While nothing decisive came out of the event, it was a good first step in exposing leaders to some of the needs and options as we begin to build consensus on the path forward. I’m always amazed at the passion and dedication our volunteer member leaders display. It’s what keeps our association strong!

Annual Oral Health Conference

On the heels of these two big MDA events comes the annual Missouri Coalition for Oral Health Conference here in Jefferson City. Vicki and Halie joined several MDA members including Drs. Lisa BoschAaron BumannMack Taylor and Nathan Sueter who all invested even more of their time to listen and contribute on a variety of topics that influence not only the public but all those working in the oral health space – providers, policy makers, agency folks, etc. Annual awards are also given. Amanda Fahrendorf from MO HealthNet was the Oral Health Champion of the Year for her extensive work helping providers navigate the Medicaid maze. And Roger Sullivan is the Oral Health Advocate of the Year for his role in fluoridation as a water plant operator. Kudos to these winners and to Gary Harbison, Executive Director of MCOH, and his team for their efforts to pull together stakeholders each year. Click to access the Conference info and presentations.

The Week Ahead

Vroom, Vroom. That’s the sound of the van revving up for some good travel next week. Jerri Wildhaber from MDIS and Devin Jungmeyer, our new MDA digital content manager, will join me for three big events. On Tuesday we will share in the annual Greater Kansas City Dental Society’s Progressing Into the Future tour where UMKC students get an up close and personal look at three different dental practices plus focused time with the dentist to hear how and why they do things. The next day we will conduct a Food for Thought at UMKC and later that afternoon will host a social reception for UMKC SOD faculty. And next Friday the MDA Foundation board will conduct its spring meeting and vote on scholarship winners. Be sure to get all the latest updates right here next week.

Quote of the Week

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein