Legislative delay keeps Aspen clinic expansion in limbo

The Aspen Group has been unable to expand its Chicago-based Oral Care Center for Excellence due to a legislative lag by the state, NBC 5 Chicago reported Dec. 19. 

The Aspen Group opened the center in July to provide dental care to underserved Illinois residents. Services — including fillings, extractions, nonsurgical periodontal treatment, dental implants, and 3D imaging and scanning — are free for those eligible for Medicaid or who are uninsured with a household income that does not exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty line. 

The center has the capacity to treat up to 2,500 patients annually but is experiencing high demand, with a waitlist of about 400 patients. But the center is unable to serve more patients unless it can expand its workforce, according to its director, Julie Frantsve-Hawley, PhD. That workforce would include dentists from other states who can come to the center for more training. 

Although Illinois passed a law in 2021 that allows dentists to offer pro bono services, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has not finalized rules for granting temporary licenses to dentists that would allow them to work in the state.

"IDFPR continues to proceed with the development of the rules to implement this legislation, with the second version of the rules having been recently submitted to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules for consideration. We will continue to work with JCAR to ensure the best possible creation of these rules to help ensure quality care and safety for everyone in Illinois," a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation told NBC 5 Chicago

The joint committee could vote on the rules in January.

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