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Dentists report tax identity theft

His tax return rejected multiple times by the electronic tax preparation system for a “problem” with the taxpayer identification number, Dr. Gerald Bonnington called the Internal Revenue Service.

“The person I got hold of asked multiple questions to verify my identity and then put me on hold and checked for my return,” he said. “Within three minutes she came back on the line and told me that, yes, my Social Security number was already filed. She went on to tell me I needed to file Form 14039 with my tax return along with photo ID such as driver’s license and/or passport. She then explained that I needed to call the credit reporting agencies to put a fraud alert on my accounts. She suggested filing a police report and going online to the FTC and filing a report.

“At the end of the conversation she told me to expect a letter in six weeks or so from the IRS telling me how to go about things from then on with a numeric pin number.” Dr. Bonnington, an Anchorage oral surgeon, said other Alaska dentists have been similarly affected. “Some of my colleagues file electronically with the same results I had. Several filed paper returns and got a letter and their return back stating that it was already filed.”

The ADA and the Michigan Dental Association issued member alerts saying that some member dentists are among the many taxpayers reporting that they are victims of tax return identity theft. U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., calling for a joint Secret Service-IRS investigation, said that more than 100 physicians, physician assistants, dentists and nurse practitioners in New Hampshire have reported that someone else filed a tax return using their Social Security numbers.

Other states where dentist members reported that they have been affected include Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

“Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes nationwide, and refund fraud caused by identity theft is one of the biggest challenges facing the IRS,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a notice posted at the IRS website.

The IRS said it has started more than 200 new investigations this filing season into identity theft and refund fraud schemes. The total number of IRS ID theft investigations in 2014 exceeds 1,800, the notice said.

There are a number of steps dentists can take if they learn their identity has been used to file a tax return, the ADA and MDA member alerts said.

• Alert your own accountant and attorney as soon as possible. They can be helpful in the process.

• Notify the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800.908.4490. If you receive a notice from the IRS, respond immediately if you believe someone may have used your Social Security number fraudulently.

• The Federal Trade Commission offers more information at FTC.gov. Notify the FTC online or by calling 1-877.438.4338.

• Contact the three credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on your credit report: Equifax (1-800.525.6285), Experian (1-888.397.3742), and TransUnion (1-800.680.7289).

• Notify local law enforcement and file a police report using the FTC identity theft report.

An ADA member resource, Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft, is available on the Center for Professional Success website. The Association will update members in ADA media and with other appropriate communications as this story develops.

AADB, DANB launch state dental practice act database

To help make locating a state’s dental practice act and dental board administrative rules and regulations easier, the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. and the American Association of Dental Boards launched a new database for AADB members and state regulators.

“Currently, dental practice acts, rules and regulations can be difficult to find, with states differing in the location and accessibility of documents,” said DANB executive director Cindy Durley, M.Ed.

With the database, they hope to bring together the material in one place. Through the resource, AADB members and state regulators can select a state to find its statutes, regulations and administrative rules governing the practice of each member of the dental team.

“Our members often reference other state’s practice acts, rules and regulations in the course of their work,” said AADB executive director James Tarrant. “We are excited for this collaboration to bring a new and valuable resource to our membership.”

To access the database, visit DANB or AADB.

AAE introduces root canal safety Web page

The American Association of Endodontists launched a new Web page that provides information about root canal safety and that debunks myths.

The AAE introduced the Web page in April, during Root Canal Awareness Week. It provides endodontists, general dentists, dental media, industry partners and patients with information about the safety of endodontic treatment.

The AAE root canal safety Web page includes a root canal safety fact sheet, tooth saving tips and videos that educate patients about endodontic specialists and root canal procedures. It also includes patient-focused information in an attempt to debunk myths that root canals cause cancer or other health problems.

“As dental professionals, we know there is no evidence of a link between root canal treatment and cancer or other diseases,” said Dr. Gary R. Hartwell, AAE president. “Unfortunately, claims to the contrary, with sensational headlines, continue to make their way through social media and can be persuasive to a small portion of the public.”

View the AAE’s root canal safety Web page.

ADA Foundation reminds dentists of Emergency Disaster Assistance Grants Program

In light of the weekend tornados in the Midwest, the ADA Foundation is reminding the dental community that its Emergency Disaster Assistance Grants Program may provide a small measure of immediate financial assistance to eligible dentists who are victims of a disaster.

The purpose of these grants is to address immediate needs such as food, bottled water, clothing, blankets, medicines and medical supplies, emergency shelter, and toiletries. For information on the program including eligibility requirements, visit adafoundation.org. To make a tax deductible donation to the ADAF Disaster Assistance Fund, visit the ADA Foundation’s donation Web page.

ADA members campaign for Congress

Washington—Three Association member dentists are running for Congress with ADPAC support.

The American Dental Political Action Committee supports the campaigns of Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, for re-election and Dr. Brian Babin, Republican, for election to an open seat in the House of Representatives. All are general practice dentists. In their congressional service, Reps. Gosar and Simpson have been advocates for oral health and have sponsored numerous oral health bills.


Dr. Gosar

Dentist/Rep. Gosar, representing Arizona’s 4th Congressional District, announced his first run for public office at the May 2009 ADA Washington Leadership Conference in the nation’s capital. In his first election in 2010 he defeated the incumbent with 49 percent of the vote and in his 2012 re-election won 76 percent of the vote though targeted from the right by a conservative advocacy group, the Club for Growth, which spent some $700,000 in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat him. ADPAC spent $392,000 in independent expenditures for Rep. Gosar in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles combined. The Republican primary filing deadline is May 28 and the primary is Aug. 26. He has a declared Democratic opponent in what is considered to be a relatively safe Republican district. Dr. Gosar practiced dentistry 1985-2010. He serves on the Natural Resources and Oversight and Government Reform committees.


Dr. Simpson

Dentist/Rep. Simpson, representing Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District, is serving his eighth term in Congress, having been first elected in 1998 after serving as Speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives and practicing dentistry 1977-1998. Rep. Simpson serves on the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, chairs one subcommittee and shares leadership on two others including the interior, environment and related agencies subcommittee. The Idaho primary election –the real race in this Republican-safe district—is May 20, and Rep. Simpson’s re-election is being challenged by a Club for Growth-backed candidate. This primary is ranked by political publications and experts as among the “Top 5 to Watch.” In previous elections, Rep. Simpson has faced little opposition. ADPAC spent $71,000 in independent expenditures on his campaigns in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.


Dr. Babin

Dr. Brian Babin is a candidate for election to represent Texas’ 36th Congressional District in the House of Representatives. This is an open seat vacated by Rep. Steve Stockman when he decided to run for the Senate and is considered to be in a Republican safe district. A dozen Republicans ran for this open seat and Dr. Babin led the 12 candidates with 33 percent of the vote in the March 3 primary. This is not enough to avoid a runoff in Texas where 50 percent of the vote is required, and Dr. Babin faces a runoff May 27 with his nearest opponent, who garnered 23 percent of the primary vote. Dr. Babin is the former mayor of Woodville. He served in the U.S. Air Force, Army Reserve and Texas Army National Guard and has practiced dentistry since 1979.

Also in the Texas primary, Sen. John Cornyn, Republican, won more than 50 percent of the primary vote to avoid a runoff with Rep. Stockman. Dr. David Alameel, who garnered 47 percent of the votes in the Democratic primary among five candidates seeking to oppose Sen. Cornyn, faces a May 27 runoff.

Gallup: One-third of Americans had no dental visit in past year

Washington—More than one-third of Americans say they did not visit the dentist at all in the past year, according to a new Gallup poll. 

The two-thirds of U.S. adults in 2013 who said they did visit the dentist at least once in the past 12 months is the same percentage as the one reported in 2008. Women are more likely than men to report visiting the dentist annually. 

The report, released April 28, details findings based on interviews in 2013 with 178,072 American adults and interviews in 2008 with 354,645 adults as part of the
 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Results for all years between 2008 and 2013 are similar. 

Among the findings: 

• Fifty-five percent of both African-Americans and Hispanics reported visiting the dentist in the past year. Whites and Asians are at about 70 percent. 

• There are smaller differences across age groups in reported dental behaviors. Adults age 18-29 are least likely to have visited the dentist but only marginally less so than those who are middle aged or older. An improved rate among seniors since 2008 is offset by a similarly sized decline among those 30-44. 

• The most pronounced differences in dental habits are those across income groups. Those who earn $120,000 or more annually are about twice as likely as those who earn less than $12,000 to say they visited the dentist in the past year—82 percent and 43 percent, respectively. Dental visit rates have held steady since 2008 for higher income individuals, while they have declined for all other groups, particularly for low- and middle-income households with incomes between $24,000 and $60,000 per year.

• Dental visit rates are essentially unchanged in all regions compared with 2008. Rates are lowest in the South—60 percent— and highest in the East—69 percent. 

• Married adults are more likely than single adults to visit the dentist. 

The ADA recommends all adults visit their dentists regularly. Regular dental visits are important because they can help spot oral health problems early on when treatment is likely to be simpler and more affordable. MouthHealthy.org, the ADA’s website for the public, lists 15 signs that should prompt people to visit the dentist.

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ADA unveils redesigned website

 

The ADA launched a completely revamped and restructured website designed to help members explore ADA.org easier and faster, whether through a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone.

The new ADA.org, along with its suite of professional websites including ADA Foundation, ADA Center for Professional Success and ADA Business Resources, went live on April 30 and is the culmination of over a year of research and development.

“Searching on the previous ADA.org was more complicated, and there were several unique websites for different services that the ADA provides. It took a long time to navigate for members and was more challenging to maintain,” said Dr. Sally Hewett, chair of the ADA Council on Communications, which oversaw the new website’s development.

Work on the new website involved all ADA divisions and major collaboration of Association staff and leaders who all had one goal in mind: enhance ADA.org with the member in mind.

“The new ADA.org provides a single resource to access all the online content for the ADA,” Dr. Hewett said. “Users will easily notice the tabs for choosing the categories to quickly find the information they are seeking.”

The revitalized website offers improved tools and resources for both dentists and patients, including a “My ADA” feature that allows members to update their contact information and displays items related to their activity with the ADA.

Other features of the new ADA.org include:

  • an expandable navigation menu that makes exploring ADA.org easier by allowing visitors access to different sections of the website in just one click;
  • easy access to content from the Journal of the American Dental Association, ADA News, upcoming events and news releases;
  • an Action for Dental Health map, where dentists can find information and monitor progress on Action initiatives, including Give Kids A Smile programs;
  • brief descriptions of an activity or resource appearing when visitors scroll the mouse over certain pictures and images.

In addition, as more people utilize mobile devices to get connected online, the new website has been designed to be viewed easily on tablets and smartphones. ADA.org was last redesigned in 2010.

To support the website redesign, market research planning for the revised ADA.org began in May 2013. An external research firm conducted qualitative focus groups to test various design concepts with member dentists and reviewed content, features and organization.

Findings from the focus groups were used to craft a quantitative survey. The online survey was fielded in August 2013 to member dentists and dental students who weighed in on the website’s design and features. The findings were used to develop the final design of the website.

New features and functionality will continue to be added over the next several months. In time, the ADA will conduct further research to assess the website’s functionality.

“We will always be looking for input on improving the website, and look forward to supporting our members and the public,” Dr. Hewett said.

Members who have questions and comments on the new website may call the Member Service Center at the toll-free number or email mscpassword@ada.org.

ADA 2014 registration open; travel discounts available

Registration for ADA 2014—America’s Dental Meeting in San Antonio opened May 1 at ADA.org/meeting.

Airline, ground and hotel discounts for the Oct. 9-14 meeting are listed on the website under Travel.

ADA 2014 will feature more than 300 continuing education courses including seven hands-on cadaver workshops at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, pre-session CE options, more than 550 exhibitors in the ADA Exhibit Hall, the second ADA Mission of Mercy charitable dental event Oct. 12, special events, networking opportunities and the annual House of Delegates meeting.

For details, order a free copy of the print Preliminary Program in the ADA Store or go to ADA.org/meeting (click on the Continuing Education tab) to download a PDF. Also available is an online schedule builder, eventScribe.

Travelers are encouraged to book flights to San Antonio as early as possible, as flights are limited. Make your travel reservations with the ADA to guarantee your preferred flights and hotel at the lowest price.

ADA’s official travel partner Gant Travel will assist with booking on all airlines servicing San Antonio International Airport (SAT). 

Online travel reservations can be made 24/7 at Gant Travel’s exclusive site for the ADA: http://nuada04.nutravel.com/; email: ada@ganttravel.com; phone: 1-877-924-0306 (U.S. only) or 1-224-205-4734. The Gant Travel Desk is open Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Central Time. Visit the Travel section of ADA.org/meeting for more information including applicable fees.

Go Airport Shuttle will provide shuttle service to all San Antonio hotels that are in the official ADA block. If traveling to a downtown hotel, you can purchase tickets in advance at ADA.org/meeting or print a coupon to purchase tickets at the airport by the baggage claim area. The discounted round-trip rate from San Antonio International Airport is $32.50 per person to any downtown hotel and $55 per person to other official ADA hotels outside of the downtown area.

Two to six people ride for the price of one in taxis. Fares, not including tips, to the downtown business district from the airport are about $25.

ADA Institute for Diversity in Leadership graduate selected for Harvard fellowship

 
Harvard bound: Dr. Rosenthal says her ultimate objective is to help as many people as possible.

Memphis, Tenn.—Raised by a single mother in a low-income urban neighborhood, Dr. Christina Rosenthal said she knew education was her ticket to success.

“I just love education,” she said. “It has always been my way to escape or confront the issues in my life. I know it can be the same for others.”

That may be why, at 35 years old, she’s again going back to school.

In June, Dr. Rosenthal will be packing up her belongings and moving to Massachusetts as the 2014-15 fellow for the Joseph L. Henry Oral Health Fellowship in Minority Health Policy at Harvard University.

“I’ve been telling my husband that I’ve been thinking about going to school again,” she said, laughing. “But coming from where I’m from, I could never have imagined myself going somewhere as prestigious as Harvard.”

The one-year program is designed to prepare oral health leaders, over time, to help improve the capacity of the health care system and address the health needs of minority and disadvantaged populations—something with which Dr. Rosenthal is already familiar.

As part of the 2010-11 class of the ADA Institute for Diversity in Leadership, she created Determined to be a Doctor Someday (DDS), a Memphis-based program that provides mentorship and resources to high school students (age 14-18) who wish to obtain doctorate degrees.

The program’s goal: Help young people who come from similar backgrounds as Dr. Rosenthal’s become health care professionals in hopes they will return to their communities and help decrease health care access disparity.

A 2005 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry, Dr. Rosenthal, who is African-American, said she was lucky, despite a lack of career direction, to have found a passion in dentistry.

“I was just so naïve,” she said. “I went to college with a goal of becoming a cardiologist, but I majored in Spanish. Somehow, it all worked out in the end. The DDS program has been such a success and it was the direct result of my time with the Institute for Diversity in Leadership.”

It was also through the institute that she learned of the Harvard fellowship opportunity and decided to apply.

“Dr. Rosenthal stood out among this year’s applicants due to her passion for public health, commitment to educating the general population on the significance of oral health and her desire to address health disparities impacting vulnerable populations,”said Joan Reede, M.D., dean for diversity and community partnership at Harvard Medical School.

The fellowship program will provide Dr. Rosenthal academic and leadership training, including in health policy and management, and apply her training through firsthand experience in private and public sectors.

Dr. Rosenthal will also receive mentoring from Harvard senior faculty and administrators and can utilize resources at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Dental Medicine to enhance networking, career development and career advancement.

“We have no doubt that Dr. Rosenthal will be one of the leaders the fellowship program envisions improving the capacity of the health system to meet the needs of the entire population,” said Dr. Charles Norman, ADA president. “We are confident that as she strives to advance important public health goals, she will inspire others in the Institute program to follow her lead.”

The Joseph L. Henry Oral Health Fellowship in Minority Health Policy was established to honor Dr. Joseph L. Henry, Harvard University School of Dental Medicine’s first black full-time professor. Dr. Henry also served as interim dean of the dental school from 1990-91.

Dr. Henry believed in the importance of mentoring and cared about the academic and career advancement of students, trainees and junior faculty without regard to race, ethnicity or gender, said Dr. Reede.

“The fellowship continues Dr. Henry’s legacy by providing resources for the next generation of leaders who will improve the capacity of the health care system to address the health needs of minority and disadvantaged populations,” said Dr. Peggy Timothe, director of Harvard dental school’s Office of Diversity Inclusion.

Dr. Rosenthal is hopeful she can use the skills and knowledge she’ll gain from the fellowship to achieve three main goals: create a curriculum or book that will help dentists become more business savvy; advocate for states to require oral health exams in schools; and expand her DDS program nationally.

“My long-term objective has always been to help as many people as possible,” Dr. Rosenthal said. “I know that’s very general, but there’s really no other way to say it.”