Maine takes another big step for Dental Therapists
A major victory today in Maine – their Dental Therapy bill got initial approval from the state Senate. Earlier this week it passed the state House on Tuesday. By conrast, last year the bill died in the Senate, losing by 7 votes.
While they still have to have another vote next week on enactment, they got 19 votes. This means that they can lose one vote and still be safe to win 18-17. They will need to hold those votes in the face of great pressure from the dental associations’ lobbyists. We cannot assume this is a done deal. However, it is great news and a huge acheivement for Maine's people.
Let's follow Maine's lead to make Dental Therapists a reality for New Mexico.
EXERPT FROM THE ARTICLE:
Maine Senate advances bill to create ‘dental therapists’: The proposal would allow dental hygienists to perform some procedures currently performed by dentists.
AUGUSTA -- The Maine Senate on Wednesday continued to a push a bill that would allow some dental hygienists to perform some duties currently performed by licensed dentists.
The proposal, L.D. 1230, sponsored by House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, would create a new dental health position in the state, a “mid-level dental therapist.” Proponents say the bill is an attempt to increase access to dental care, especially in rural areas. However, groups representing dentists have fiercely opposed the measure, saying the state’s current shortage of dentists will be filled.
Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford, said the bill would increase dental care for poor and rural Mainers. He noted that only 12 percent of the state’s dentists currently accept MaineCare patients. MaineCare is the state’s version of Medicaid, the publicly funded health insurance program for the poor, elderly and disabled.
Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, said he was originally ambivalent about the proposal, but not any longer. Katz said that proposal doesn’t force dentists to hire a dental therapists, but it could increase profits while expanding coverage if they do. He said that if two-thirds of the children in the state don’t have a dentists, then the current marketplace is broken.
“The status quo isn’t working,” he said. “This is the right thing for our state.”
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