CHICAGO, Illinois--Academy of General Dentistry President David F. Halpern, DMD, FAGD, testified March 4, 2010, during the open session of the Institute of Medicine's first meeting of "The Committee on Oral Health Access to Services" in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Halpern protested the IOM's failure to include a single practicing dentist on the committee roster.
"Over 90% of all practicing dentists are in the private sector, and over 80% of dentists are primary care providers," Dr. Halpern said. "For this committee to lack representation from the private sector totally deprives the study of real-world input and totally goes against the committee's charge of reaching a balanced, objective, and credible conclusion."
Furthermore, Dr. Halpern expressed concern that the committee's framework would likely produce a one-sided result of championing the use of alternative or midlevel providers and neglecting commonsense approaches that use the full dental team concept to address access to care concerns.
"To those whose hands aren't in a patient's mouth every day, alternative delivery models look good in theory, but they are unlikely to be able to answer the question of not only whether they actually work in practice, but if they are truly also cost-effective, and not just cost-delaying," Dr. Halpern said.
The Committee on Oral Health Access to Services is one of two new IOM committees that explores oral health policy under a contract from the Health Resources and Services Administratio, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The second study committee, titled "An Oral Health Initiative," will hold its first meeting March 31, 2010. Dr. Halpern will testify again to protest the exclusion of practicing dentists on that committee and to convey concern over the study's direction.
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