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Innovation is key to ADA future

Board of Trustees offers 2016 budget proposal

September 21, 2015

By Judy Jakush

Photo of Dr Feinberg

Dr. Feinberg

Photo of Dr Summerhays
Dr. Summerhays

Photo of Dr. Lemmo
Dr. Lemo

ADA leadership views its 2016 budget proposal as an investment in the Association’s future, with innovation playing a pivotal role.

With an eye to the Association’s Strategic Plan, Members First 2020, the Board and officers voted in August to transmit Board Report 2, the annual summary of anticipated revenue and expenses to the House of Delegates. The Board also proposed a resolution recommending that national dues remain unchanged in 2016 at $522.

“Over the last several years and again in the 2016 budget, we are investing in the future, laying a foundation for change, and again in 2016 as in the previous two years the Board is recommending no national dues increase,” said Dr. Ron Lemmo, ADA treasurer.

ADA President Maxine Feinberg reiterated the need to invest in the future as the Association and dentists themselves face change, citing the Strategic Plan’s mission statement of helping all members succeed and the goal of increasing member value and engagement.

“We are committed to being thoughtful and wise stewards of the Association’s resources,” said Dr. Feinberg. “At the same time, we want to ensure we are providing good member value in support of our members, which sometimes are tangible products and services and often are actions that are less visible — the behind-the-scenes support for all aspects of the profession and organized dentistry.”

Dr. Carol Gomez Summerhays, ADA president-elect, said preparing for the changes ahead means that the ADA has to try new and different approaches. “We need to test the waters with pilot programs and only implement programs after we see if they work. Our focus is on member value, providing the services and products that help members become better dentists and professionals.”

The Board is recommending a 2016 operating budget of $131.8 million in revenues and $125.7 million in expenses and income taxes, generating a surplus before transfers to the insurance royalty reserve of $6 million. Board Report 2 notes that after transferring $6.5 million in royalty revenue to the insurance royalty reserve, the operating budget has a net deficit of $437,000.

As the Association is expected to finish 2015 with a surplus, that can cover the anticipated deficit, said Dr. Lemmo. “The House has urged the Board in recent years to use surpluses from one year to support the next year’s budget. What doesn’t fund the 2016 operating budget will be placed in the operating reserves.”

The royalty reserve is dedicated to member value and long-term dues and financial stabilization as directed by Res. 84H-2013 and Board action. 

One of the change items in the budget proposal is the Board’s plan to spend up to $1 million from the royalty reserves for investment in innovation to support member value.

“This was a discussion that started a year and a half ago about how we should be following a corporate model regarding innovation,” said Dr. Lemmo.

All three leaders noted that the budget process highlighted a need to respond to member needs in a faster, more market-driven manner, based on identification and analysis of member needs. Corporations that succeed consider innovation a necessary catalyst for growth.

“The investment in the future means we can better address issues of recruitment and retention,” said Dr. Lemmo. “Board Report 2 presents a comprehensive rationale for the need to make changes to attract members, or face a future in which our representation is diminished.”

Dr. Summerhays cited increased emphasis on support for dental students and new dentists as critical to the long-term viability of the Association. “This has been a high priority for me, as I have visited 27 dental schools in the past two years. I want us to really focus on these groups,” she said.

The budget proposal continues the ADA’s technology support for state dental societies through a software platform (Aptify) that unifies member information; the Association is also helping states with their websites. “Our focus at the ADA level is to help drive engagement at the local level,” Dr. Summerhays said.

Providing member value is what the budget is all about, said Dr. Feinberg. “Services we are providing are there for members. They can go to their offices and provide dental care to their patients in any environment and not have to worry because they know the ADA has their back.”

The ADA House of Delegates will meet Nov. 6-10 in Washington, D.C. Board Report 2 and other House information are available to members only on ADA.org. Members First 2020 — Strategic Plan 2015-2019 is available online.