We want to thank all of you who have been responding to our email alerts encouraging you to contact your legislators, specifically Senators this week, on the oral health practitioner (formerly ADHP) bill. Your emails/calls have helped to communicate a clear and concise message from the MDA about our concerns with this legislation.
This week the bill moved to the Senate floor.
Legislative language that would be an alternative to the ADHP/oral health practitioner language has been developed by Senator Yvonne Prettner-Solon (DFL-Duluth) and other senators who have supported the MDA position.
The alternative language that was developed is a study and process language, similar to, but not exactly like, what the University of Minnesota had brought forth earlier in the process. The language would have the Commissioner of Health convene a work group that includes representatives from the U of M Academic Health Center, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the MDA, the MN Dental Hygienist Association, the MN Dental Assistants Association, the Board of Dentistry, community clinics serving low income and uninsured patients, the Department of Health Rural Health Advisory Committee and the Commissioner of Human Services (or the commissioner’s designee) to develop recommendations on the necessary education, scope of practice, program accreditation, practice settings that provide the greatest access to underserved populations, supervision and regulatory requirements for a new oral health practitioner.
Additionally, the group would be charged with reviewing existing mid-level dental practitioners and therapists practicing in other countries as well as new dental practitioner proposals from the American Dental Association (i.e. CDHC). The Commissioner would report to the chairs of the appropriate legislative committees with purview over health care issues by January 15, 2009. This amendment also is supported by the U of M.
The entire Senate was aware that Senator Prettner-Solon intended to offer this alternative language on Thursday. The existence of this alternative language was an important backdrop to what actually happened Thursday on the floor of the Senate.
Senate Floor Action
The full Senate took up S.F. 3813 early Thursday afternoon. Earlier in the day, there were rumors swirling that an amendment might be offered to strip out (delete) all the “policy” language in the bill. Indeed, the first amendment offered was by Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller (DFL-Minneapolis). He explained to the Senate that it was customary to examine and review finance bills and determine whether or not too much “policy” was in the bill. So, the Senate took a voice vote and agreed to the amendment, which stripped out the policy language and, in this case, Sen. Lynch’s oral health practitioner language.
The motion by Sen. Pogemiller was that the “policy” language that would be deleted out would be taken up in the Senate Rules Committee on another day. So, Sen. Lynch’s language will most likely end up on another moving bill. It looks like it may be the Omnibus Higher Education bill.
The MDA and the U of M Academic Health Center will continue to work with senators on this proposed alternative language. On Thursday, we were prepared for the vote, but we’ll continue to work the senators. In the meantime, we need you to contact your senator.
Contacting Your Senator
It is imperative that when you contact your senator that your communication with them is not insulting or accusatory. Please do not be angry when talking to them directly or in email correspondence. Stay professional. Stay above the fray on this. We know how strongly many of you feel about this issue and this has not been an easy session. However, we have been told that some legislators have received mean-spirited communication from some dentists, which has cost us a couple of key swing votes. Therefore, please be professional and courteous.
When you contact your senator, please emphasize the following key point:
If you have questions about the process or this amendment, please feel free to contact MDA President Jamie Sledd at 763-494-4443, Legislative Affairs Committee Chair Scott Lingle at 651-227-6646, Executive Director Dick Diercks at 612-767-8400, or Legislative Affairs Director Laura Fenstermaker at 612-767-4255.
Thank you for your attention to this issue and your involvement to help ensure an acceptable outcome.