Ore. considers midlevel providers; ODA opposed

Oral health advocates in Oregon are pushing for legislation that would create midlevel providers in a state where access to care has become a critical issue. But the Oregon Dental Association (ODA) is ready to fight any such bill introduced in the next state legislative session, according to a story by the Lund Report.

Twenty-two of Oregon's 36 counties currently have a shortage of dental professionals, according to Judith Woodruff, health work force program director with the Northwest Health Foundation, who testified December 14 before the Oregon Senate Interim Committee on Health Care.

But introducing a new dental team member is just part of the answer to addressing access issues, Rick Asai, DMD, immediate past president of the ODA, told the Lund Report. "We need to incorporate prevention or we're never going to solve these problems," he said.

The ODA and the Oregon Oral Health Coalition are now working with a mediation group, Oregon Consensus, to see if they can find some common ground.

Initially, the ODA refused to participate in mediation, said Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson (D-Gresham), who chairs the Health Care Committee. But the two sides reportedly had a constructive, problem-solving meeting on December 15 and are scheduled to meet again in January, according to the story.

Last month, thousands of people in need of dental care attended a Mission of Mercy free clinic in Portland, OR, at the Oregon Convention Center. It was the first such Mission of Mercy clinic organized by the ODA.

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