On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler (Worcester -D) and House Chairman Smitty Pignatelli (Berkshire – D) held a press conference in support of a joint legislation aimed at bridging the dental health gap in Massachusetts.
The legislation, S.1169 / H.2474, An Act authorizing dental therapists to expand access to oral health, is being supported by healthcare advocacy organization Healthcare for All, and Dental Care for Mass Coalition, and numerous other advocates.
Under the legislation, dental therapists would be allowed to work directly in their community under the direct supervision of a full- or part-time dentist. Dental therapists will be able to offer services to any individual including the uninsured, seniors, and others struggling to afford a dentist.
Senator Chandler said, “It cannot be stated often enough: too many people are deprived of dental care. This legislation gives midlevel practitioners the freedom to work flexibly and efficiently, to ensure that the best care is delivered to the greatest amount of people. Our bipartisan coalition agrees that with this legislation we have a solution – and after nearly four years of debate, it’s time for this solution to become law.”
According to data provided by Senator Chandler’s office, more than 530, 000 people in Massachusetts live in areas with a shortage of dentists.
Additionally, in 2015, more than 284,000 kids on MassHealth didn’t see a dentist.