Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dentists Drop Opposition to Minnesota Mid-Level Dental Practitioner?

minnesota oral health
A woman signs a board bearing a statement against oral health practitioners. Part of the statement reads: "We are against the drilling and pulling of teeth without a dentist onsite and without appropriately accredited education."

Flap supposes it is a done deal since the politics of Minnesota leans in that direction and the dental association received the best compromise that they could.
Supporters of a bill creating a new mid-level dental practitioner position to work in under-served areas of the state have reached a compromise with opponents.

Dentists fought the original proposal on the grounds that it compromised patient safety. The dentists argued that mid-level practitioners wouldn't have enough training to perform some of the surgical procedures spelled out in the legislation.

But in recent days dentists withdrew their opposition after lawmakers agreed to beef up the education requirements. The Legislature is expected to take its final votes on the bill this week.Minnesota's mid-level dental practitioner legislation is not a perfect solution to the workforce problem in the eyes of many dentists.

Most dentists would prefer a plan that pays them more to take care of patients on public assistance programs. Usually, dentists lose money on those patients. But the state's budget problems make better reimbursement virtually impossible. So dentists decided this session to push for a compromise they could live with.
But, what a bureaucratic nightmare and how confusing to the public.

Who do patients in Minnesota see for dental treatment?
  • A dentist?
  • A oral health practitoner?
  • A dental hygienist?
  • A pediatrician?
And, with the number of dentists in the state nearing retiement age will the state be able to attract the necessary graduates to replace those dentists, especially in rural counties?

Probably not.

As I said before:

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 more rural Minnesota dentists?  Fund some federal-state rural health clinics?

This 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 but the dentists have rolled over on this one and now must suffer the consequences.

There are some more Minnesota legislative hurdles and maybe somebody will have the good sense to kill this bill.

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