Institute of Medicine (IOM) to exclude private practice dentists from two panels

Dear Members,

The American Dental Association is very concerned over a recent decision by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to exclude private practice dentists from two panels it is convening to study oral health care delivery in the United States.

At the behest of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, IOM will begin studies (one on a national oral health initiative and one on access to services) in March. These studies could help drive national policies on improving access to oral health care.

ADA leaders met Friday with IOM representatives, including Tracy Harris, the director of the studies, to discuss the aims and makeup of the panels. We made it clear that the ADA supports the IOM's efforts to examine access issues in general and that we wish to work positively with the IOM as they conduct the studies. We stressed that including private practice dentists on both panels was essential if the reports were to have any credibility with the practicing dentists who ultimately deliver the vast majority of care. Also, IOM representatives were informed that the ADA accumulates vast amounts of data, some published, some not on both the public and private delivery systems that the IOM may find quite useful in their study. The IOM emphasized that both committees will be impartially evaluating published data in order to reach their conclusions. However, we urged the IOM to include private practice dentists on the panels, as they will be deeply involved in the implementation of any IOM recommendations.

Ms. Harris offered the ADA and the American Dental Education Association the opportunity to meet with the president of IOM to further discuss the two studies. Staff in the Washington Office is pursuing this meeting and writing a formal letter to the panels asking them to reconsider the membership composition of the panels. I will keep you abreast of developments.

Below are links to the two IOM studies. Within these links, you have the opportunity to email comments to IOM about the need to include the private practicing perspective on both committees.

Study on an Oral Health Initiative

Study on Oral Health Access to Services


Ronald L. Tankersley, D.D.S.