As states continue to face access to dental care
issues, many turn to alternative workforce models, such as dental therapy and
expanding the scope of practice, in an effort to provide more access to care.
Below is a synopsis of various proposals and/or resolutions on alternative
workforce models under consideration in the states:
Utah passed SB 177, which expands the
working scope of dental hygienists as well as the definition of “public health
setting” for purposes of hygienists’ practice. Governor Gary Herbert signed the
bill into law on March 30, 2015. The new law allows hygienists to provide
services under a written agreement with a licensed dentist (expanded from the
previous requirement of face-to-face supervision) within a public health
setting. The law’s definition of a public health setting includes schools,
nursing homes, assisted living facilities, community health centers, federally
qualified health centers and mobile dental health programs.
Vermont’s Senate passed S.20, a bill to establish
licensure and regulation for dental therapists. The bill establishes the scope
of practice for dental therapy, licensure requirements, oversight and
supervision requirements and disciplinary procedures. The bill requires a
dental hygienist to obtain a dental therapy certification and pass an
examination. Currently, there is no dental therapy curriculum available in
Vermont; however, Vermont Technical College says it is prepared to provide such
training should the bill pass. The bill is now in the Vermont House of
Representatives and has been referred to the Committee on Rules.
Dakota passed a resolution, SCR 4004, calling for continued
study of dental services, including a review of the infrastructure required to
cost-effectively use mid-level providers. The state had requested such a study
last year, but the legislature determined that the findings were insufficient
to move forward with legislation in this Assembly. The new resolution calls for
the study to continue and for the findings to be reported at the next meeting
of the Legislative Assembly.
Mexico’s Senate, prior to
adjourning for the year, passed a memorial calling for a dental
therapy task force to review possibilities for a dental therapy program and
draft a bill establishing the licensure and practice of dental therapists. A
dental therapy bill passed the New Mexico House this session, but the Senate
did not take any action. The Senate thus requested this task force to present
both proposed legislation and an oral presentation to the Health and Human
Services Committee by Oct. 1, 2015. The task force comprises state legislators
and oral health professionals recommended by the New Mexico dental association,
dental hygienists’ association and Health Action New Mexico.
Hawaii’s legislature is
considering a resolution calling for an analysis
of the profession of dental therapists. The resolution passed through the House
Committee on Health and is currently being reviewed by the House Committee on
Consumer Protection & Commerce. The resolution requests the analysis to be
performed and results submitted to the legislature prior to the convening of
the 2016 session.