A voice for small business

Dr. Rich Mounce encourages colleagues to be informed and involved for future practice growth

1200x600_EndospectiveAs clinicians, we are focused on patients, our offices, new clinical materials, and techniques. Many of us do not pay close attention to politics. It’s not generally in our DNA. Starting in about 2000, I began to pay attention. Alarmingly, I watched my tax bills rising simultaneously with the rising national debt and observed an evolving dysfunction led by federal and state governments that are either unwilling or unable to solve the nation’s problems.

What’s this got to do with endodontics and dentistry as a whole? A great deal. There are many threats to our profession, but one significant stress is the increasing level of state and federal regulations under which we operate. The burden of rules we are required to follow is rapidly taking us to a tipping point where the regulatory and compliance burden imposed on us by our government threatens our ability to function as independent small businesses, our doctor-patient relationships, and the dental industry that supplies us.

Economic and regulatory policies at the state and federal levels have a direct impact on the economic viability of our communities, directly affect our economic health, and ultimately dictate how we practice. Reasonable and common sense regulation is needed. Overkill is unproductive, and the statistics don’t lie. Less regulated states are healthier on virtually every economic and social metric compared to more regulated ones.

Two cases in point illustrate this challenge. First off, how many of you right now, without any preparation, would eagerly, and without limits, want the EPA, IRS, OSHA, and/or any government agency, for that matter, to inspect your practice for regulatory compliance? With the breadth of current regulation, is there any doubt that the vast majority of us would violate any number of laws, many of which we did not even know existed?

Second, recently I received an email from a seasoned American dental industry executive. Illustrating the stifling effect of federal regulation, he wrote: “… it adds tons of cost, barriers, and more often than not, stifled innovation as we wrestle with trying to figure out how to make something ‘evolutionary’ versus ‘revolutionary’… the former being deemed by our regulatory bodies as being an acceptable term because it connoted remarkable equivalence … and the latter being a complete non-starter, because it would suggest that there is no predicate device (again, something that is part of the requirements of getting 510(k) approval (government approval that a device is safe and effective). …

Sit in any product pipeline meeting of a medium to large dental company, and you will find 90% of the discussion focused on regulations, verbiage, resource allocation, troubleshooting, and less than 10% about actual innovation. Sad truth.”

Why do we allow this? Is this the present and future America needs? Do we fear our government and hence remain silent? Or do we just not care? I believe we do care, but while we all lead busy lives, we believe that someone else is going to take care of these challenges for us. Hence, we don’t generally pay attention and are ending up like the proverbial frog in a pot of water with the heat being slowly turned up.

Regardless of one’s politics, there has never been a greater need to be informed, get involved, and work for common sense policy that protects and serves our patients, without undue taxation or regulatory burden.

Start by writing a check to your state dental PAC and/or the ADA PAC, contact your local and national leaders, vote for common sense solutions and pragmatic candidates, and participate in the process. As for me, I am running for the state legislature in South Dakota to help grow small businesses and protect small businesses like ours.

We must not lie down like lambs accepting government dictates from a faceless, uncaring, distant and feared bureaucracy. Certain defeat looms if we passively stand by and pretend there is nothing we can do and remain silent. We have a voice, and now more than ever, we need to collectively use it to take the best of dentistry today, remove the barriers described above, and move forward toward a better and more sustainable future.

Beyond dentistry, removing these barriers will help arrest our national slide into mediocrity. Our professional futures, the future of dentistry, and ultimately the future of America depend on efforts such as ours. I welcome your feedback.

richard-mounceRich Mounce, DDS, a practicing endodontist, has lectured and written globally in the specialty. He owns MounceEndo, an endodontic supply company also based in Rapid City, South Dakota. Dr. Mounce can be reached by calling 605-791- 7000, emailing RichardMounce@MounceEndo. com, or visiting MounceEndo.com

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