April 13, 2021

Guest opinion: Dental therapists can increase access to dental care [News Press]

This post was last updated on September 29, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Sal Nuzzo and Sadaf Knight write:

"Floridians are currently facing a serious healthcare access crisis. Regular dental visits and proper dental hygiene are essential to the health and well-being of Floridians. Poor dental health profoundly impacts Florida students’ ability to learn and Florida workers’ ability to provide for their families. Despite the importance of dental health, one in four Floridians doesn’t have access to a provider. Fortunately, Florida lawmakers with their eyes on solving problems have a valuable policy reform available to them — enable dental therapy.

Senator Jeff Brandes has proposed a measure that would mean thousands of Floridians could get access to care — by enabling and bringing the proven concept of dental therapy to Florida. It’s past time for the Legislature make it happen.

The James Madison Institute and Florida Policy Institute don’t always agree on policy proposals [emphasis added]. Dental therapy is different. The core of the challenge is getting patients desperately in need of oral care into a chair with a qualified professional that can address their needs. We agree that establishing a career track in Florida for qualified mid-level practitioners is a commonsense solution to solve Florida’s dental health crisis.  

It should not come as a big surprise that both our organizations back dental therapy. That’s because enabling dental therapy in Florida will increase access to essential dental care for all Floridians, and it will cut the overall costs of dental care, some of which is paid by taxpayers."


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