With little fanfare and only one amendment to the bill, the senate higher education omnibus bill passed on a voice vote today, Thursday, April 17, 2008. The only amendment that was offered was by Sen. Ann Lynch (DFL-Rochester), which creates a study of an oral health practitioner. This study language replaces previous proposals to establish a new Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner (ADHP), which was later renamed an oral health practitioner (OHP). (Click here to see the language that was adopted).
For the first two months of this legislative session the MDA worked aggressively to oppose, first the ADHP, which later changed to the OHP. In committee-after-committee in the House and Senate, we were present lending our expertise, education, and vision on this important and historic legislation. Committee-after-committee, the bill moved through the legislative process.
We fought vigorously against the proposal for a new mid-level practitioner because no other state legislature has approved such an expanded scope of practice for hygienists or any other dental auxiliary. We were very concerned that this was being done with too little discussion and debate and in a very hasty manner. We also felt that not all members of the dental community, including the Minnesota Dental Association, the Board of Dentistry, and the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry had adequate input into the proposal. The MDA has always preferred a more thoughtful and collaborative process that involves the entire dental community. By using a collaborative study approach, all oral healthcare stakeholders will be at the table to develop a solution to the dental access problem in a way that is acceptable to the entire dental community and provides a more beneficial outcome for the public.
Today’s amendment creating a study was supported by the MDA. Under this study language, the Commissioner of Health will convene a study group by August 1, 2008 to develop recommendations and proposed legislation for the education and regulation of an oral health practitioner. Our hope is that this study will allow a thoughtful collaboration of all parties, with recommendations on scope of practice, training, supervision, and appropriate regulatory requirements to be brought forth to the 2009 legislature.
The MDA is committed to work within this process to assure that this proposal helps provide access to dental care for the underserved and public program recipients, while at the same time assuring the safety of the dental patient.
If you have any questions or concerns about this or any other legislative matter, please fee free to contact either Jamie Sledd, MDA President, at 763-494-4443, Scott Lingle, MDA Legislative Affairs Chair at 651-227-6646, Dick Diercks, MDA Executive Director at 612-767-8400, or Laura Fenstermaker, MDA Director of Legislative Relations at 612-767-4255.