Legislative Preview: Legislators Introduce a Bevy of Health Bills
VT Digger’s article about the upcoming session included a large section on t he Licensed Dental Practitioner (LDP). Please view the full article here, or read the section about the LDP below.
Last year a bill to license dental practitioners, who could perform oral health services at a dentist’s discretion, was derailed, but lawmakers in the House and Senate have reintroduced it this year.
Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison, will again sponsor the legislation in the upper chamber (S.20). On the House side, Rep. Tony Klein, D-East Montpelier, has introduced a dental practitioner bill as well (H.1).
Despite having the second lowest uninsured rate in the U.S., more than half of Vermont residents don’t have dental insurance, according to a recent study of oral health in the state commissioned by the Green Mountain Care Board. While that’s not out of line with national statistics, Vermont’s covered population isn’t getting the oral health coverage they need either, the report concludes.
“Significant numbers of adults 18-64 have lost all their natural teeth to decay or disease and do not access recommended preventative services,” the report states.
In some areas of the state, as high as 9 percent of the total population have lost all their natural teeth to disease or decay.
Advocates say that the state’s access problem stems from a shortage of dentists, especially in rural areas. The bill requires that dental practitioners be employed by a dentist, thereby allowing a practice to serve more patients.
The Vermont Dental Society opposes licensing dental practitioners and succeeded in blocking the legislation last biennium. They say increasing Medicaid reimbursements for dentists is a better way to solve the problem.