New Ill. law makes it easier for dentists to volunteer

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill into law June 12 that makes it easier for the state's dentists to provide voluntary care to low-income families enrolled in public healthcare programs.

H.B. 5859 allows licensed dentists to provide volunteer care through a nonprofit health clinic, which can then receive payments from the state. The payments will help the clinics cover the costs of dental equipment and supplies.

Under current law, free and low-cost health clinics cannot be reimbursed for volunteer care provided by a dentist unless the dentist is personally enrolled as a Medicaid provider. The new law requires only the clinic to be enrolled with Medicaid. The clinics can use the Medicaid funding to pay for dental care costs such as equipment and supplies. Eligible nonprofit clinics include federally qualified health centers and public health clinics.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville) and Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana), and passed the Illinois General Assembly unanimously. It takes effect on January 1, 2011.

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