The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) notes an increased interest by the general public on all levels in dental care programs, both private and government-sponsored. In keeping with the general outlook and purposes of the AGD, the AGD seeks to assist the profession and allied agencies involved in the maintenance and improvement of high-quality dental care.
The AGD has several objectives and purposes in developing high-quality dental care. Promoting the science and art of dentistry leads to the betterment of public health. Encouraging oral research provides dentists with the latest scientific knowledge. Preserving the rights and freedom of the dentist and patient allow for an unfettered dentist-patient relationship.
The AGD strongly believes that general practitioners have the right to engage in any dental procedure for which he or she is qualified by training and experience and has as an objective ensuring that general dentists are reimbursed for dental procedures at the same rate as specialists. The AGD is able to justify this position because we are confident that our dentists are the best trained by virtue of their dedication to continuing education. It is an AGD objective to provide and guide continuing-education programs and study group activity for general practitioners and to encourage and assist practicing dentists to participate in such programs toward continuing-education competence.
The AGD also serves as the voice, eyes, and ears of the general dentist in all matters of interest to the profession and the public it serves. We do that by having representation in Washington D.C., and by working at the state and local level with our constituents. The AGD seeks to promote uniform methods of reporting treatment contemplated and rendered and to affirm that the prime responsibility of total oral health care rests with the general practitioner.
The AGD seeks to maintain an active organization of general practitioners of dentistry by fostering continuing education in a caring and supportive atmosphere. The AGD also seeks to motivate and assist dental school students in preparing, qualifying and establishing themselves in the general practice of dentistry.
In order to fulfill these goals, AGD advocates various principles as its policy in the dental care arena. The AGD believes that any government dental health program have as its principal requirements that all drinking waters be fluoridated as needed, concepts and programs of preventive dentistry be taught and implemented for children in schools, and a program for adult preventive care be instituted both in the dental office and community service clinics. Furthermore, a massive effort needs to be undertaken to discover the cause and cure of dental disease.
The AGD also believes that the right of the general practitioner to practice all phases of dentistry must be preserved in every state and that the doctor-patient relationship must be maintained without interference by a fiscal intermediary.
The AGD encourages implementation of a prepayment evaluation mechanism that establishes a working liaison with insurance carriers and other fiscal agents for the review of prepayment programs. The AGD supports the standards established by the American Dental Association regarding pre-paid programs. The AGD encourages programs to be established that recognize the right of the dentist to perform any services for which he/she is licensed and qualified to perform and ones which provide patients with freedom of choice of dentists.
Wherever and whenever the AGD finds discrimination in third-party programs involving the general practitioner and/or patients, it will make every effort to correct the problem. Failing to do so, the AGD will then seek relief through the American Dental Association or its equivalent or through appropriate legal channels.
Legislative contracts should be established and maintained from the individual member up through the state and national levels to assist general practitioners and the community in programs involving health legislation. Every AGD constituent is recommended to have an active dental care committee that will report on an annual basis to the AGD Dental Care Council for proper coordination and development of programs. Incentives for such activity are provided to the constituent academies.
The AGD supports a pluralistic system of dental prepayment, including private insurance carriers, service corporations, private payment by patients, and limited government payment. The AGD also endorses and supports co-insurance in addition to those programs offering total or paid in full coverage. An acceptable fee for any dental care service is that amount which is mutually agreeable to both the patient and the dentist, based on all factors involved in the treatment. Any fee established by a third party (for example, that called usual and customary) is to be regarded as an indemnification toward the fee agreed by the dentist and the patient.
The AGD supports the view that the public has the right to have access to comprehensive dental care. However, the AGD opposes any government health program that would use public funds to provide dental care for persons who are financially able to pay for dental services. Current Medicaid programs should be expanded to include more comprehensive dental care.
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth of a yearlong series of articles from the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). The AGD and Dental Equipment & Materials are working together throughout 2004 to bring you articles that will help you in your practice. For more information on the AGD, log on to www.agd.org or call (888) 243-3368.
Myron J. Bromberg, DDS, maintains a private dental practice in Reseda, Calif. Specializing in access to dental care, Dr. Bromberg has served as chairman or vice chairman of dental care councils for the American Dental Association (ADA), Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), California AGD, California Dental Association, and San Fernando Valley Dental Society.
Resources for advocacy efforts on behalf of general practitioners
The AGD facilitates the practice of the profession for general dentists by investigating and determining policies that advance dentists professionally and provide optimal dental care for the patient. The AGD also meets with organized dentistry, the governmental agencies charged with overseeing oral health, and, with third-party carriers, in order to represent and advocate the positions of the general dentist.
To learn more about AGD’s advocacy resources, visit www.agd.org/advocacy.html
Washington briefing - General practitioners can stay informed with this frequent newsletter on health and legislative issues affecting dentistry, OSHA regulations, and the AGD’s lobbying efforts in Washington.
Priority issues - General practitioners can obtain information on key issues affecting general practice, such as access to care, children’s oral health and health-care reform, and what action the AGD is taking. AGD represents the interests of the general dentist by communicating the AGD’s positions to lawmakers, administrators, and regulators. AGD also conducts grassroots lobbying efforts and work with government agencies and private foundations to provide optimal environments in which general dentists can treat their patients.
Third party - The AGD’s Dental Care Council has developed guidelines and forms to help you resolve third-party issues.
To learn more about the benefits of AGD membership, visit www.agd.org/about/benefits.html.