Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Federal Trade Commission Weighs into Dental Hygienist Vs. Dentists Turf War

Georgia Board of Dentistry Proposal to Restrict Services by Dental Hygienists Would Harm the State's Most Vulnerable Consumers
The staff of the Federal Trade Commission urged the Georgia Board of Dentistry to reject a proposal that would prohibit dental hygienists from providing basic preventive dental services in approved public health settings except under the indirect supervision of a dentist. In a written comment letter to the Professional Licensing Boards Division of the Georgia Secretary of State, the FTC staff explained that, while there is no evidence that such supervision is necessary to prevent harm to dental patients, the proposed rule amendments likely would raise the cost of dental services in Georgia and reduce the number of consumers receiving dental care.

The FTC staff is especially concerned that the proposed changes to the rule, which could be interpreted to restrict hygienists from performing services such as sealant and fluoride treatments at approved facilities unless a dentist had previously examined the patient and ordered the treatment, would harm the state’s most vulnerable consumers. The lack of dental care is a particular problem for children in rural and low-income communities, the FTC staff comment states, and dental hygienists play an important role in delivering care to these communities. In addition, according to the staff, the notice announcing the proposed amendments cites no evidence that allowing hygienists to continue to perform these types of dental services in facilities without direct supervision has harmed, or will harm, patients.
Well, I think this issue will be litigated because I see little Constitutional authority of the FTC to tell a state licensing board as to how to regulate their own dentists and dentral hygienists. I think any argument that the Georgia Dental Board is restraining trade is a reach.

But, the Obama Administration loves regulation and Big Government - so off to court Georgia and the FTC will go.