Vt. considers licensed dental practitioners

Vermont lawmakers are considering two bills to create a new dental care provider in the state, a licensed dental practitioner. The goal of the bills is to improve access to dental care for underserved populations.

H.1 and S.20 would establish and regulate these practitioners.

"The licensed dental practitioner will work under the supervision of a dentist, but under general supervision and can go into our communities to provide preventive and restorative dental care to persons with limited access," stated Sheila Reed, associate director of Voices for Vermont's Children, in a press release.

The bill will help senior citizens in Vermont receive care, according to state Senator Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden).

"I have represented Vermont seniors on Medicare and Medicaid for three decades in the State House. The dentists have continuously and consistently said they could not afford to take new Medicaid patients at the rate Vermont pays," he stated in a press release. "S.20 seems to be an elegant and Vermont-specific solution to the access problem our seniors face for primary and preventative dental care so essential to their good health."

Vaughn Collins, executive director of the Vermont State Dental Society, was quoted in a Vermont Public Radio story saying that he is concerned that the new license wouldn't require enough training.

"We feel as though Vermonters deserve to see a dentist," Collins said. "Are there some people who don't get it? Unfortunately, yes. And there are probably distributional issues in the state relative to the rural areas. But we feel as though Vermonters deserve to see a dentist and with that level of training, and we've been doing a good job thus far and would like to find ways to be able to expand upon that."

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