Michigan Senate passes bill licensing dental therapists: 5 things to know

In a 21-to-15 vote, Michigan Senate approved a bill authorizing and licensing mid-level dental professionals, referred to as "dental therapists," according to Michigan Radio.

Here are five things to know:

1. Amy Zaagman, executive director of the Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health, said the bill aims to provide more dental access to underserved residents.

2. Dental therapists will practice in designated dental shortage areas such as safety net settings or in regions where at least 50 percent of therapists' patients meet certain low income requirements.

3. To see patients, dental therapists have to fulfill various educational and training mandates.

4. Ms. Zaagman said less than 10 percent of dentists operating in Michigan had at least one patient with fee-for-service Medicaid coverage in 2016.

5. The Michigan Dental Association opposes the bill, citing low Medicare reimbursement rates as the reason for the dearth in dental access. MDA Vice President of Government Affairs Bull Sullivan said, "If the reimbursement rate could be increased, the dentists are there to provide the care. They're there to provide the care if they will at least not lose money every time they see a patient."

More dental news:
EON Clinics' Dr. Rajam Sharma on dental implants & technology's role in the dentistry field
Aspen Dental increases footprint in Minnesota through 3 office additions: 4 things to know
Henry Schein donates $18k in dental supplies to support children in Peru

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