With heavy lobbying by the MDA, an aggressive statewide advertising campaign, and significant grassroots efforts by member dentists, an amendment to Senator Lynch’s OHP bill lost by a very narrow margin on the Senate floor last Friday. Support for the MDA position was much stronger than the OHP supporters had expected and placed the MDA in a better position in the ongoing battle over the scope and supervision of this new mid-level dental worker.
The vote was taken by the Senate on S.F. 2083, the Omnibus Higher Education Appropriations Bill into which Senator Lynch’s OHP and the dental therapist language from S.F. 1106 was placed earlier in the week.
Senator Gary Kubly (DFL-Granite Falls) offered an amendment to the OHP language on behalf of the MDA. The amendment sought to delete the OHP scope of practice and replace it with the dental therapist scope of practice. More specifically, under the amendment:
Voicing strong opposition to the amendment on the Senate floor were Senators Ann Lynch (DFL-Rochester), Rod Skoe (DFL-Clearbrook), Linda Berglin (DFL-Minneapolis), and John Marty (DFL-Roseville). Arguments against the amendment included: the need to address access to care issues, particularly in dental health professional shortage areas; the high number of emergency room dental visits and related costs; the aging of dentists and pending loss of dental professionals to retirement; the need for care in group homes and nursing homes; and the proven use of dental therapists in Saskatchewan and Alaska with no evidence of safety concerns.
Senator Kubly responded to these arguments and reiterated his support for the amendment. When the final vote was taken, the 32-33 vote that defeated the amendment was much closer than the OHP supporters had expected. Click here for Vote Roll Call.
The future pathway for this legislation in the Senate is not clear at this time. However, the House of Representatives will soon be taking up H.F. 535, the Omnibus Health Licensing Bill, which includes the OHP language. We, therefore, encourage you to contact your State Representative immediately to communicate your concerns about this legislation.