CHICAGO (July 26, 2012)—The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) applauds the recently released American Dental Association (ADA) series of studies on the economic viability of independent midlevel providers in dentistry. The ADA retained ECG Management Consultants (ECG) to study the economic viability of independent midlevel providers in five states (Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire and Washington) based on current outside interest in instituting independent midlevel providers in those states.
The ECG study contains 45 scenarios that consider issues such as the party or parties responsible for the cost of treatment, educational costs for the providers, and overhead costs. Of the 45 scenarios modeled by ECG, only five would possibly work subsidized and in environments that rely on a substantial input of private pay income.
AGD President Jeffrey M. Cole, DDS, MBA, FAGD, agrees with the ADA’s assertion that gathering information is just the first step toward addressing the issue of midlevel providers. “More work needs to be done,” says Dr. Cole. “The AGD believes that the more important part of the issue lies in moving the focus away from workforce models and instead to focus on the more important goal—knocking down the barriers to access to care.”
Dr. Cole also noted that the AGD has been active in providing positive, proven, workable, and cost-effective solutions for removing barriers to access to care. The AGD’s most recent white papers, Increasing Access to and Utilization of Oral Health Care Services and Barriers and Solutions to Accessing Care, detail these solutions. The latter document was approved by the AGD House of Delegates last month.
AGD Vice President W. Carter Brown, DMD, FAGD, adds, “The AGD knows that most oral health care problems are preventable, and believes the focus on workforce diverts time, energy, and resources away from addressing the real barriers to patients utilizing the care available. There is no shortage of dentists and they provide enough capacity to care for those who seek care. We must address the barriers that interfere with creating and sustaining improved oral health. Barriers such as social, cultural, economic, personal responsibility, and transportation issues have the significant impact on improving oral health not workforce.”