Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Minnesota Dental Association Targets Mid-Level Dental Practitioner Legislation

ann lynch

Senators Ann Lynch (DFL-Rochester) and Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick) look over details of a bill during a Health, Housing and Family Security Committee hearing Wed., Mar. 25, 2009

Certainly, this issue is a turf-war for the dentists and the Minnesota Dental Association, a component of the American Dental Association.

The Minnesota Dental Association on Monday launched a statewide ad blitz targeting a Rochester lawmaker's proposal that would create a mid-level dental practitioner.

The association is running print, radio and Web ads in markets across the state. A full-page ad that ran in Monday's Post-Bulletin featured a dental patient with his mouth being worked. Above the photo in large type it read -- "The last thing you want to hear when you're getting dental care is 'uh-oh.'" The ad urges readers to call Sen. Ann Lynch, DFL-Rochester, and tell her "unsupervised workers doing dental surgery is a bad idea."

Other newspaper and radio ads urged people to contact their lawmakers.
So, what is the proposal that has riled up the dentists in Minnesota?

An oral health practitioner license.

The ads center around Lynch's proposal that would create an oral health practitioner license. Practitioners would have to be licensed dental hygienists and complete a special master's program. They would be allowed to do diagnoses and treatment plans, pull teeth, fill cavities and prescribe certain medications. The idea is to improve access to dental care, especially in rural areas. It was based on recommendations by the state Oral Health Practitioner Work Group. The Minnesota Dental Association fiercely opposes the proposal saying it would put patients' safety at risk.
And, why do you need a less trained person practicing dentistry? To provide rural health care?

Why not simply provide scholarships for hygeinists to become licensed dentists? Or how about public health scholarships/loan forgiveness programs to induce moral rural Minnesota dentists?  Fund some federal-state rural health clinics?

Thsi entire program seems to be an end-around comprehensive dental training and dentist licensure. This proposal will only threaten public health not promote it.

A bad idea.

Here is the Minnesota Dental Association ad:


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