Access to oral health care is essential to maintaining overall health. The Oral Health Advocacy Taskforce supports measures that promote access and delivery of crucial oral health services through having a strong network of multiple providers. In the current economic climate, it is essential that we find creative ways to improve access, and as the 2009-2010 legislative session draws to a close, a bill has made its way to the Governor’s desk that, when enacted, will do just that.
The Volunteer Dentistry Bill, proposed by the Massachusetts Dental Society, will improve access by allowing retired dentists to volunteer their services in qualified free-care programs. Dentists must abide by all of the requirements for a dental license set by the Board of Registration in Dentistry, but the fee for licensure will be waived. With 20% of the state’s population living in dental health professional shortage areas, this is a welcome change.
The bill was filed by Senator Marc Pacheco, and was also championed by Senators Harriette Chandler and Susan Tucker, and Representative John Scibak.
At a time when MassHealth adult dental cuts have created another barrier to care, this measure will help to alleviate the barriers of provider shortages, geographic access, and cost.