Gov. Evers released a dental access initiative this week that would include $43 million in funding in 2019-21 for various dental programs. The initiative would:
- Increase the rate for loan repayments to the dentists who serve in rural areas from $50,000 to $100,000.
- Allocate $39 million for increased reimbursement rates to dental providers if they serve a certain percentage of Medicaid patients.
- Provide $525,000 to expand the Seal-a-Smile program to more schools and provide $200,000 to add restorative care to the program.
- Provide $1.275 million in grants to increase the number of low-income dental clinics.
- Provide just under $1 million GPR to fund 4.6 Medicaid dental positions, which lost their federal grant funding.
- Create a “dental therapist” license and provide $1.5 million for dental therapists training.
In addition to Evers’s plan, Rep. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) and Sen. David Craig (R-Big Bend) are recirculating legislation (LRB 1947) that would create a new license under the Dental Examining Board for “dental therapists,” an intermediate level of dentistry practice between hygienists and dentists. Dental therapists would perform certain services under the general supervision of a dentist with a collaborative management agreement. The dentist need not be present for the dental therapist to practice, but a single dentist may have collaborative agreements with no more than five dental therapists at a time. The legislation (AB 945/SB 784) failed to pass last session.