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CPS offers resources to help dentists navigate Medicare decision

The deadline for opting in or out of Medicare is looming for dentists, and the ADA Center for Professional Success has a number of online resources that can help them make sense of the regulation and what to do, according to ADA News.

Center for Professional SuccessAny dentist who prescribes Part D covered drugs to Medicare beneficiaries has three choices. They must enroll in the program either as a provider of Medicare services or as an ordering/referring provider or opt out in order for prescriptions they write to be reimbursed by Medicare, according to the federal government. Dentists who fit this requirement must take action by Dec. 1.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has several options for enrolling that apply to dentists. Opting out of the program, by signing an affidavit and entering into private contracts with patients as appropriate, means dentists are out of Medicare for two years and cannot receive any direct or indirect Medicare payment for services provided to Medicare patients. Regardless of the choice, a full explanation and links to the appropriate form, as well as sample affidavits, are available through the Center for Professional success.

The Center for Professional Success has a number of other resources that can help with this sometimes complicated and confusing process:

  • Medicare tutorial video
  • Frequently asked questions about the Part D regulation
  • Resources for enrolling as a Medicare provider
  • Resources to opt-in as a Medicare ordering/referring provider
  • Resources to opt out

The Medicare tutorial video, along with the FAQs, is designed to help dentists make a decision on which option is right for them.  To access these resources and more, visit Success.ADA.org.

Nominations due end of May for ADA Foundation’s Whiston leadership awards

Know any promising dentists with leadership potential for improving public health? Nominations are due May 31 for the ADA Foundation’s Dr. David Whiston Leadership Program Awards.

ADA FoundationThe Whiston Awards are designed to support dentists who show leadership potential for improving the oral health of the public. As part of the program, the ADA Foundation provides two $5,000 awards each year — The Dr. David Whiston Leadership Award and the Henry Schein Cares Dr. David Whiston Leadership Award — to cover costs associated with attending an American Management Association leadership training program.

Nominees must be early career dentists or students who have demonstrated the ability to create a vision and motivate others to achieve that vision. They must also demonstrate ability to use those traits for the greater good through activities that help advance the oral health of the public and/or the underserved.  The ADA Foundation’s website lists more eligibility requirements.

To nominate a candidate, submit the nomination form, found on ADAFoundation.org by the deadline.

The ADA Foundation created the Dr. David Whiston Leadership Program in 2014 to honor Dr. David Whiston, who has served the oral health profession through many important leadership roles, including as 1997-98 ADA president and 2010-14 president of the ADA Foundation Board of Directors.

To make a tax-deductible donation to the ADA Foundation, visit ADAFoundation.org or call 1-312-440-2547.

Nepal dental school seeks instructors for new Health Volunteers Overseas project

Dr. Hollander's favorite mountain in Nepal is Ama Dablam, pictured here.

Dr. Hollander’s favorite mountain in Nepal is Ama Dablam, pictured here.

Any interest in teaching in Nepal?

The ADA News is reporting that a dental education project in Dhulikhel, Nepal, is seeking volunteers to teach this fall under the auspices of Health Volunteers Overseas, Dhulikhel Dental School and Kathmandu University School of Medicine.

“They want to improve the dental education that they provide the students,” said Dr. Brian Hollander, project director. “Our volunteers will work with both the students and the faculty in helping them improve their knowledge and teaching techniques. Their goal is to produce excellent dentists. It’s a pretty interesting partnership. HVO just launched the project last month. We’ve already had quite a bit of interest. I’m very excited about this program.”

Dr. Dashrath Kafle, left, and Dr. Hollander stand overlooking the dental school at Dhulikhel Hospital. Dr. Kafle is a professor at the school and the HVO project's local contact.

Dr. Dashrath Kafle, left, and Dr. Hollander stand overlooking the dental school at Dhulikhel Hospital. Dr. Kafle is a professor at the school and the HVO project’s local contact.

The first volunteer is going to Nepal in April. The project needs volunteers for placement between September and mid-November.

Infection control and hygiene; training for dental assistants and hygienists; dental laboratory techniques; finishing orthodontic cases to American Board of Orthodontics standards; oral pathology and oral medicine are among the requested focus areas for volunteers. Academic support in oral medicine and oral pathology has also been requested.

The program needs academic support in oral medicine and oral pathology and training in four-handed dentistry for the dental nurses and assistants.

Volunteers must be fully trained general dentists, specialists and/or board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeons who hold a current license to practice. Assignments are for a minimum of two weeks.

To read the full story, click here.

Why new dentists need a legal entity

So you’ve decided to open your own dental practice. Now that you’ve told your family, friends, and dental school buddies, it dawns on you…you don’t actually know how to open a practice.

Rich McIver

Rich McIver

In this blog we’re going to walk you through some of the basic requirements needed to open a practice, and provide you practical steps that you can take to get your practice off the ground.

The first step to starting a dental practice is a pretty mundane one: legally forming a company entity. A legal entity is simply a company that is recognized and registered with your state. Your legal entity can be a Corporation, a Limited Liability Company, a Partnership, or any other business type that your state recognizes. It is distinguished from running your business via a sole proprietorship, or other arrangement which is not registered or recognized by your state.

Why do Dentists Need an Entity?

The short answer is you don’t. There’s no law requiring that you run your practice via an entity, you can run it as a sole proprietorship (which in plain English means, “in your own name”). However, here are some pretty good reasons why you’ll want to have an entity:

  • Legal Protection

The biggest reason to form a dental business entity is that it means that your business is separate, legally speaking, from you. That’s useful because if you get sued personally, which could happen for a variety of reasons—such as a guest slipped and fell at your house, you default on your home mortgage, or you get sued for medical malpractice—then the assets of your business aren’t subject to the lawsuit. That is to say, if the lawsuit against you is successful, they won’t be able to take your business. Same thing applies if your business is sued. If the lawsuit is successful, they won’t be able to seize your personal assets. In effect, it creates two separate pots, and a successful lawsuit can only raid one of those pots if you’ve used an entity.

  • Accounting Transparency

A second reason to form an entity is accounting transparency. By having your business run as a separate entity you’ll have separate bank accounts, separate accounting, a separate line on your tax return to report the earnings, etc. That accounting separation is necessary if you’re ever going to try to bring in a business partner, sell a business, or even just properly calculate your taxes. Can you do these things with a sole proprietorship? Technically yes, but it’ll be such a mess trying to disentangle your personal expenses from your business expenses that nobody, whether it be a partner, a buyer, or the IRS is going to believe your calculations and thus your valuation or tax liability will be worse than it otherwise would be.

  • Business Credit Separated from Personal Credit

Another reason you want to create a separate legal entity is that you can start to develop business credit that is separate from your personal credit. In plain English, the loans you take out in the business’ name, whether for equipment, a building, etc. will go on your business’ credit report, and not your own. That’s a good thing for two reasons: first, if either your business or your personal credit isn’t squeaky clean you’ll have fewer problems; second, you can generally borrow more money in total if they’re separated, which as a new dentist trying to start a practice and likely carrying a mortgage, that’s a good thing.

In sum, it’s not legally required, but it’s a good idea to form a separate entity to run your dental practice in.

In the next article, we’ll cover what type of entity you should form, what elections to make, how to actually do it, and how much it will cost you.

For information on ADA legal resources, click here.

Rich McIver is a New Dentist Now guest blogger. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2005 and obtained his law degree at the University of Chicago Law School in 2008. After graduating law school, Rich founded and managed three tech startups that were each acquired through private equity, private sales and a merger, respectively. In 2010, he founded and managed a Houston-based plaintiffs law firm which he sold via a buyout in 2014. In 2013, he and his wife, Holly McIver, an ADA member dentist, founded Kingwood Orthodontics, where he continues to manage back-office operations. His current project is running Merchant Negotiators, a Web startup based in Houston. Rich provides practical actionable advice for new dentists based on his experience starting and building successful businesses.

The purpose of this article is to promote awareness of legal and other issues that may affect dentists and dental practices, and is not intended to provide either legal or professional advice. Dentists are urged to consult directly with a properly qualified professional or with an attorney admitted to practice in their jurisdiction for appropriate legal or professional advice.

New Dentist Conference Joins ADA 2015 – America’s Dental Meeting

The ADA is pleased to announce that for the first time, the New Dentist Conference will be held at the ADA annual meeting from November 5-10 in Washington, D.C.

New Dentist Conference 2015Features of the New Dentist Conference include:

  • Shark Tank co-star Daymond John as keynote speaker.
  • Exclusive, interactive educational offerings.
  • High-level networking opportunities with leadership and peers.
  • New Dentist reception and lounge.
  • Significantly reduced hotel rates.
  • A chance to give back at the ADA Mission of Mercy.
  • We encourage you to share this information with any dentists who have been out of school for ten years or less as this is an experience they won’t want to miss.

Registration for the New Dentist Conference at ADA 2015 opens May 13 — a full week earlier than general registration! For more information, visit ADA.org/NDC.

Addiction webinar set for April 22

An upcoming webinar aims to educate dentists on how to prescribe medication for patients with a history of addiction.

prescription drugsSafe Prescribing for Patients With a History of Substance Abuse Disorders is scheduled for April 22 from 2-3 p.m. Central time. Michael O’Neil, professor of pharmacy practice at South College in Knoxville, Tennessee, will discuss how dentists can implement treatment strategies that guide safe practices while performing procedures on patients with a history of substance abuse disorder. Dentists will also learn how to develop a safe and effective plan for acute pain management for patients receiving opioid maintenance treatment for addiction.

Those who participate in the webinar are eligible to earn one hour of continuing education credit. To register, contact Alison Siwek, manager of dentist health and wellness for the Council on Dental Practice, at siweka@ada.org or 1-312-440-2622.

Last day of registration is April 20.

Take action on dental student debt

2014 Dental Student Loan DebtDid you know the average dental school graduate in 2014 carries $247,227 in student loan debt, up from $221,000 in 2013? While this debt may not be the sole factor in determining whether a new dentist will choose a career of private practice over public service, 61 percent of graduating seniors say it does influence their decision.

The infographic uses data gathered by the American Dental Education Association.  Please take action now and contact your representative about this important issue, please visit ADA.org/Engage.

Observe Oral Cancer Awareness Month through screenings

When caught early, oral cancers are highly treatable and often have a better prognosis. Oral health experts believe April’s designation as Oral Cancer Awareness Month is a useful time to raise patient and provider awareness about the disease, according to ADA News.

The National Cancer Institute estimates there were 42,440 new cases of oral cancer  — and pharynx cancer — in 2014, and 8,390 deaths. Death rates among white males have not changed significantly between 2007 and 2011, according to NCI.

Still, most oral cancer diagnoses are “caught late,” said Dr. John Hellstein, president of the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, professor of oral and maxillofacial pathology at the University of Iowa and former chair of the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs. “That’s why we want dentists at every appointment to look for any kind of abnormality.”

Dentists should look for signs of oral cancer during any routine visit, according to Dr. Hellstein. “Attentiveness is the key,” he said.

The ADA encourages its members to promote early oral cancer detection through periodic extraoral and intraoral examinations and, with constituent societies, it promotes prevention and early detection of oral cancer through public education activities. The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs encourages clinicians to provide adult patients with thorough hard-tissue and soft-tissue exams, including lymph node examination, following completion of the patient’s health history and risk assessment.

To read the full story, click here.

Information is available at ADA.org here and at MouthHealthy.org.

Win a Fitbit Flex office package through the Center for Professional Success

Looking to improve your fitness and the health of your staff? Member dentists have a chance to win a Fitbit Flex office package (six devices) by logging into the Center for Professional Success website and entering the monthly contest.

Center for Professional SuccessTo enter, simply log in with your user ID and password at Success.ADA.org, click the Fitbit image and register by April 30.

Last month, Brett Nelson, a dental student at the University of Colorado, won an Apple iPad Air.

The ADA Center for Professional Success is an ADA member-only interactive Web resource where dentists and dental students can find practice management information and decision support tools and applications, along with online and in-person executive management certificate and life mastery programs. Through the Center, dentists can discover relevant and impactful solutions to the business challenges they face every day in the office. Visit Success.ADA.org to learn more.

Medicaid challenges and rewards: One new dentist’s experience

Dr. Chris Hasty, vice chair of ADA’s New Dentist Committee, weighs the challenges and “rewarding” experiences with accepting Medicaid in his practice and says, “As new dentists, we should want to see the Medicaid system fixed and functional.”

Dr. Hasty

Dr. Hasty

We asked Dr. Hasty for his thoughts on accepting Medicaid patients.

He offered a litany of “frustrations” with the system, which includes low reimbursement rates, bureaucratic hoops, closed networks, burdensome filing requirements, limited covered procedures, down coding, endless paperwork and RAC audits, “which is not only aggravating for the provider but very stressful and time consuming.”

“A truly functional and fair Medicaid system is not a bad thing,” said Dr. Hasty. “In addition, as long as the system is fixed and functional, dentistry will be able to decide its fate and role. Sure it is not glamorous, but you do learn valuable lessons from accepting Medicaid.”

“Medicaid provides a consistent influx of patients into your practice. This is the real world. You have a steady stream of patients to help you build your speed, work out of multiple chairs and check hygiene at the same time.

“I used my experiences with my Medicaid patients to determine what I truly like in dentistry, and maybe more importantly what I truly did not like. In addition, when the Medicaid system is functional you can depend on your reimbursement to be in the bank in a timely pattern.

However, one must be very careful to limit the amount of Medicaid in his/her practice. A practice too dependent on Medicaid is very vulnerable to outside influences affecting the growth and sustainability of the practice. One significant fee decrease can cause a practice to close its doors if it becomes too dependent on Medicaid.

“I believe that we, as new dentists, should support the ADA’s effort for Medicaid reform. With the number of graduates entering the workforce today, there will always be providers able to continue dental care to these patients even as others drop off the system. In addition there is a sense of satisfaction providing care to a child whose only hope for dental care came with the Medicaid card he or she brought in. It is very rewarding seeing a child that did not have a chance at good oral health grow into a young adult with good oral health because of a system that was fair to the participant and the provider.”

For more information on increasing provider participation in Medicaid, click here.