SB 12, pre-filed for the 2017 Legislative Session by Senator Renee Unterman (R-45), adds approved safety net settings, including charity care clinics, federally qualified health centers, long-term care facilities (nursing homes), school-based health centers, and private practice settings to the list of places where dental hygienists can perform their duties with only “general supervision” from a dentist. This means that dental hygienists can clean teeth and apply flouride and sealants without the dentist present in the office. “General supervision” is the law in 47 states.
This bill is important because approximately 1 in 4 children in Georgia do not receive preventive dental care. Preventive dental care in safety net settings is key to keeping children’s mouths in good shape and keeping them in school. Children and seniors in high need areas deserve improved access to preventive dental care as well as dental referral opportunities when they need more than cleanings.
Representative Sharon Cooper filed a similar piece of legislation in the House, HB 154. We are excited to report that both HB 154 and SB 12 passed out of the House and Senate respectively, and that HB 154 passed both chambers during the 2016 Legislative Session. HB 154 now goes to the Governor’s desk for signature.
During the 2015-2016 Legislative Session, Representative Chuck Martin (R-49) filed a similar bill, HB 684, which passed out of the House Health & Human Services Committee. However, sadly, it did not pass out of House Rules Committee and therefore did not get to the House floor for a vote before Crossover Day (Feb. 29, 2016).