Mich. considers midlevel provider bill

Michigan has become the latest state to consider a bill to allow midlevel providers (MLPs) known as dental therapists.

SB 1013, introduced June 7, 2016, by state Sen. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), would allow dental therapists to practice under the supervision of a licensed dentist. Following specialized training, they would be licensed to provide routine dental care, including restorations.

To ensure that dental therapists improve access to dental care for underserved populations, one of the bill's provisions requires them to practice in public health clinics or to have at least half of their patients receiving Medicaid, have no insurance, or face other barriers to obtaining oral care.

The Michigan Dental Association opposes the bill. The ADA and most state dental associations have opposed allowing MLPs to do restorations and extractions due to concerns about nondentists performing surgical/irreversible procedures.

Minnesota, Vermont, and Maine have passed laws allowing dental therapists to practice, and many states are considering similar bills. MLPs have also been approved to practice on tribal lands in Alaska and Washington, and Oregon is launching a statewide dental therapist demonstration program.

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