Press Releases

ARIZONA SENATE VOTES 22 – 8 TO APPROVE DENTAL THERAPY BILL

Backed by overwhelming bipartisan support, SB1377 advances to House of Representatives

PHOENIX (February 21, 2018) – The Arizona State Senate voted 22 – 8 Wednesday in favor of SB1377, which creates a new oral healthcare delivery model and workforce that can extend access to dental care throughout Arizona. The bill dictates strict standards for the training, licensure and regulation of dental therapists, and is a major step in establishing dental therapists as a new workforce option that will extend the reach of Arizona dentists. The bill next moves to the House of Representatives.

During debate, SB1377’s prime sponsor, Senator Nancy Barto, citing a letter she received from the Minnesota Department of Health Services, said, “In Minnesota, dental therapists are mostly serving rural areas that don’t currently have access to care, and are working in proportion to the population at large. The fact is that dental therapists are a common – and common sense – addition to the dental team.”

Senator John Kavanagh dismissed claims from the dental lobby that dental therapists will take business from dentists, “Dentists will adjust to this new model, and they will prosper. And more importantly, our constituents will prosper, particularly poor people.” To date, the dental lobby has yet to produce a single case where a dentist in any other state has suffered economically from the introduction of dental therapy.

Rigorous training and education requirements are a critical piece of the dental therapy bill. “We trust that the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation’s standards are sufficient for training dentists,” said Senator John Kavanagh. “This is the same organization that has set the training standards for dental therapists. This bill requires the same level of quality training for both.” His statement reiterated the fact that dental therapists receive the same high-quality training and take the same licensing exams dentists take for the procedures in their limited scope of practice.

“As legislators, our job is to make sure a proposal is safe and effective,” Senator Kavanagh added, “dental therapy far surpasses that test. Now it’s time for government to get out of the way.”

SB 1377 is sponsored by a bi-partisan group of more than 30 legislators from both the House and Senate. The supporters span the ideological spectrum and have enthusiastically backed this legislation as a way to address Arizona’s critical need for dental providers. The proponents of the bill, working together under the umbrella of the Dental Care for Arizona Coalition, all support dental therapy’s proven track record, and use of the free market to bring more quality providers, at lower cost, to serve their respective communities. Once passed, SB1377 will provide an option to dentists and dental clinics, both public and private, who are interested in expanding their dental teams and increasing their efficiency in providing dental care.

For more information on dental therapist licensing efforts in Arizona, please visit dentaltherapyforarizona.org/

About Dental Care for Arizona

Dental Care for Arizona is a coalition of 16-member organizations working together to enhance access to high quality oral healthcare for all Arizonans. These organizations support licensing dental therapists, as an innovative way to expand access to high quality and affordable care. The safety and quality track record for dental therapists is long and well documented. In addition to decades of experience in more than 50 countries around the world, more than 1,000 studies and evaluations confirm that dental therapists provide safe and quality care for dental patients, while also making dental care more available to the underserved.

MEDIA CONTACT: Marco Ceglie
Marco@marcoceglie.com | 602-396-5171

DENTAL THERAPY BILL ONE STEP CLOSER TO IMPROVING ACCESS TO DENTAL CARE FOR ALL ARIZONANS

Backed by overwhelming bipartisan support, SB1377 advances after passing Senate Education Committee hearing Thursday

PHOENIX (February 15, 2018) – Arizona’s Senate Education Committee voted 4-2 Thursday to move SB1377 forward, a major step in establishing dental therapists as a new option to extend the reach of Arizona dentists. These highly trained allied health professionals can play a critical role on the dental team, similar to the role nurse practitioners and physician assistants play on the medical team. SB 1377 is sponsored by a bi-partisan group of 31 legislators, who have enthusiastically backed this legislation as a way to address Arizona’s critical need for dental providers, and because of the overwhelming evidence that dental therapists are a safe and effective way to improve access to quality dental care across our state.

“With this legislation, Arizona will join a growing number of states where dental therapy is helping to modernize the dental care delivery model, creating efficiencies while effectively serving rural and low-income populations,” said Senator Nancy Barto, prime sponsor of the bill. SB1377 dictates strict standards for the training, licensure and regulation of dental therapists, providing an option to dentists and dental clinics, both public and private, who are interested in expanding their teams and increasing their patient load. “The dental therapy model requires that these practitioners be as highly skilled in their limited scope of practice as dentists are, taking the same clinical exams for the procedures they are both able to perform. Dental therapists will also be trained in programs accredited by the same entity that accredits our dental schools in Arizona and across the nation. This is an innovative, cost-effective free market solution to the oral health crisis that exists in rural and underserved communities across our great state,” added Sen. Barto.

“Currently, 4.6 million Arizonans live in a Dental Health Professional Shortage Area, with Arizona’s tribal communities facing the most critical need,” said Senator Jamescita Peshlakai. “To do nothing to solve this crisis is unconscionable. American Indian children have the highest rate of dental disease of any population, and those problems follow them into adulthood. It is critical that our children get a good education, yet tooth pain is a major reason for school absences. It affects how well our children can concentrate in school, their nutrition and their self-esteem. We must do better for them. It is simply immoral not to act.”

In the US, dental therapy has been successfully implemented in Alaska, Minnesota and on tribal lands in Oregon and Washington State. Maine and Vermont have passed authorizing legislation and are developing the educational programs to train dental therapists. At least a dozen states, in addition to Arizona, are currently considering legislation to authorize these providers.

Dental therapists will help create healthy communities and a healthy workforce,” said Senator Juan Mendez, co-chair of the Arizona Latino Caucus, which voted to endorse the bill on February 2nd. Mendez emphasized that Latino populations, especially children and the elderly, suffer from dental disease at higher rates compared to the rest of Arizona. A 2015 study by the Arizona Department of Health Services reported that over half of Latino kindergarteners had a history of tooth decay—well above the rates in their white classmates. This represents a system that is failing our children, particularly children of color.

“This is an innovative response to increase efficiencies in our dental care delivery model. It doesn’t make sense to require that the single most expensive member of the dental team perform every restorative procedure, from a simple filling in a primary tooth, to root canals, bridges and dental implants. Dental therapists are highly trained to perform the most routine, commonly needed procedures, allowing dentists to focus on the complex cases and complicated needs. This allows everyone to work at the top of their license, which expands access to care, while making all providers more profitable” said Senator Rick Gray.

For more information on dental therapist licensing efforts in Arizona, please visit dentaltherapyforarizona.org/

About Dental Care for Arizona

Dental Care for Arizona is a coalition of 16-member organizations working together to enhance access to high quality oral healthcare for all Arizonans. These organizations support licensing dental therapists, as an innovative way to expand access to high quality and affordable care. The safety and quality track record for dental therapists is long and well documented. In addition to decades of experience in more than 50 countries around the world, more than 1,000 studies and evaluations confirm that dental therapists provide safe and quality care for dental patients, while also making dental care more available to the underserved.

MEDIA CONTACT: Marco Ceglie
Marco@marcoceglie.com | 602-396-5171

MORE ARIZONA LEGISLATORS VOICE SUPPORT DENTAL THERAPY BILL

Both the Latino and the Indigenous People’s Caucuses have voted to support legislation that allows private, public, non-profit and tribal oral health facilities to utilize skilled dental professionals to increase access to quality dental care in their communities

PHOENIX (FEBRUARY 5, 2018) – Legislators of the Indigenous People’s Caucus and Latino Caucus both voted overwhelming in support of SB1377, “The Dental Therapy Bill” (Dental Therapy, Licensure, Regulation) whose momentum now includes the support of more than 31 Republican and Democratic legislators.

“Implementing dental therapists can help reduce the need in underserved populations, both rural and urban, and help create healthy communities and a healthy workforce,” said Senator Juan Mendez, co-chair of the Arizona Latino Caucus.

Mendez emphasized that Latino populations, especially children and the elderly, suffer from access and care issues at higher rates compared to the rest of Arizona:

    • 74,000 Latino children in Arizona are uninsured
    • Over half of Latino kindergarteners had a history of tooth decay compared to a third of their white counterparts in 2015
    • 28% of Latino kindergarteners had untreated decay compared to 15% of white kindergarteners in 2015
    • 1 in 6 Latino adults age 65 and older had lost all of their teeth due to tooth decay or gum disease, and over a third had lost 6 or more as of 2014

“Among our Latino communities, non-profit organizations such as Valle de Sol, Chicanos Por La Causa, as well as the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, have also endorsed dental therapy.”

Tribes in Arizona, who have advocated for the authority to utilize dental therapists in IHS and Tribal health facilities since 2007, are eager to see the bill pass. “In Arizona alone, 76 percent of American Indian kindergarteners have experienced tooth decay, and that’s just the beginning of a life of dental challenges for Indigenous people in the United States,” said Sen. Jamescita Peshlakai, member of the Arizona Indigenous People’s Caucus. “Incorporating highly trained dental therapists who can perform a limited number of procedures, compared to a dentist, is a cost-effective model that has been proven to work in countries around the world and tribal communities in the U.S.”

“Dental therapists have made a big impact in improving access in Tribal, rural, and underserved areas in Alaska, Washington State, Oregon and Minnesota,” said Kim Russell, Executive Director of the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care. “We are confident that dental therapists will not only help alleviate chronic shortages in our Tribal communities, but improve the oral health outcomes of our children, veterans, and elderly in every corner of Arizona.”

Read The Dental Therapy Licensure Bill #SB1377 here

For more information on dental therapist licensing efforts in Arizona, please visit dentaltherapyforarizona.org/

About Dental Care for Arizona

Dental Care for Arizona is a coalition of 16-member organizations working together to enhance access to high quality oral healthcare for all Arizonans. These organizations support licensing dental therapists, as an innovative way to expand access to high quality and affordable care. The safety and quality track record for dental therapists is long and well documented. In addition to decades of experience in more than 50 countries around the world, more than 1,000 studies and evaluations confirm that dental therapists provide safe and quality care for dental patients, while also making dental care more available to the underserved.

MEDIA CONTACT: Melissa Rein Lively
Melissa@marcoceglie.com | 602-396-5171

BILL AUTHORIZING DENTAL THERAPISTS GAINS SUPPORT OF 31 LEGISLATORS

31 legislators sign “SB1377 – The Dental Therapy Bill” as momentum grows for new legislation that would add skilled dental professionals and increase access to quality dental care for all Arizonans

PHOENIX (January 30, 2018) – Legislators on both sides of the aisle are coming together to address Arizona’s dental health crisis of access and care. Since introducing SB1377 last Wednesday, “The Dental Therapy Bill” has quickly gained the attention and support of 31 Republican and Democratic legislators who have signed on in support of the bill.

State Senator Nancy Barto, Chair of Senate Health and Human Services Committee, introduced the legislation to create an allied dental professional that will increase access to high quality, affordable oral healthcare. The need is especially acute for children, low-income people, rural areas and Tribal Communities. The legislation creates a licensing structure, lays out educational requirements and establishes the scope of practice for dental therapists to practice in Arizona. Dental Care for Arizona, a broad coalition of oral health stakeholders, business community interests and community activists have also voiced their support for Senator Barto’s proposal.

Members of the Dental Care for Arizona coalition span the ideological spectrum: from the Goldwater Institute and Free Enterprise Club in support of dental therapy’s free market impact to create choice and high-paying jobs in the oral healthcare industry, to Chicanos Por La Causa, Southern Oral Health Coalition and the Inter Tribal Association of Arizona supporting dental therapy’s proven track record to bring more quality providers at lower cost to serve their respective communities. The bill’s 31 co-sponsors also span the ideological spectrum and is one of the few examples of true bipartisan agreement in this hyper-partisan era.

“The dental therapy bill’s strong cross-section of bi-partisan support emphasizes the viability and effectiveness dental therapists have proven elsewhere, and will deliver for Arizona,” Said Representative Drew John.”

“Data by the Health Resources and Services Administration, show that Arizona has the highest percentage of people living in a federally designated Dental Health Professional Shortages Area than any other state in the nation,” said Representative Diego Espinoza. “We know that lack of access to dental care disproportionately impacts tribal, rural and low-income communities. Dental therapy is a viable option that this legislature must consider as we work together to address this chronic healthcare challenge.”

“With this legislation, Arizona will join a growing number of states where dental therapists have become a vital part of the oral healthcare team,” said Senator Nancy Barto, prime sponsor of the bill. The bill, filed as SB1377, will allow for the training, licensure and use of dental therapists in both public and private dental care settings. “Dental therapists have been working safely and effectively around the world since the 1920s, and in the United States since 2004. In fact, more than 1,100 reports, assessments and studies confirm the safety and effectiveness of dental therapists as an innovative, costeffective delivery model for dental care,” added Sen. Barto.

Tribes in Arizona, who have advocated for a law to allow dental therapists to work within their respective communities since 2007, are eager to see the bill pass. This change in state law will provide them a proven workforce model to help address their chronic need and access issues. “Dental therapists have made a big impact in improving access in Tribal, rural, and underserved areas in Alaska, Washington State, Oregon and Minnesota,” said Kim Russell, Executive Director of the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care. “We are confident that dental therapists will not only help alleviate chronic shortages in our Tribal communities, but improve the oral health outcomes of our children, veterans, and elderly in every corner of Arizona.”

For more information on dental therapist licensing efforts in Arizona, please visit dentaltherapyforarizona.org/

About Dental Care for Arizona

Dental Care for Arizona is a coalition of 16-member organizations working together to enhance access to high quality oral healthcare for all Arizonans. These organizations support licensing dental therapists, as an innovative way to expand access to high quality and affordable care. The safety and quality track record for dental therapists is long and well documented. In addition to decades of experience in more than 50 countries around the world, more than 1,000 studies and evaluations confirm that dental therapists provide safe and quality care for dental patients, while also making dental care more available to the underserved.

MEDIA CONTACT: Melissa Rein Lively
Melissa@marcoceglie.com | 602-396-5171