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Minutes for SB129 - Committee on Public Health and Welfare

Short Title

Providing for the licensure of dental therapists.

Minutes Content for Wed, Feb 17, 2021

Chairman Hilderbrand opened the hearing on SB129.

Jenna Moyer, Staff Revisor gave an overview of the bill and answered questions from committee members.

Travis Lowe gave testimony in support of SB129. He explained that SB129 would create a mid-level practitioner between a dental hygienist and a dentist. In order to become a dental therapist, they must first hold a license as a registered dental hygienist and then add two more years of education and training.They would then be able to perform an additional 31 procedures beyond what a dental hygienist can to today. (Attachment 1)

Julie Martin testified as a proponent of SB129 saying that dental therapists will work under supervision of a dentist.  Dental therapists will address a critical public health need in Kansas; access to oral health care. The number of Kansans without access to adequate oral health care is well documented. Authorization of the dental therapist could have a dramatic impact on access to oral health care, particularly in rural and urban under-served areas and their populations.Oral Health Kansas recognizes the need to expand and strengthen the dental workforce in Kansas and supports the efforts being undertaken to address this issue through the establishment of dental therapist licensure in SB129. (Attachment 2)

Tanya Dorf Brunner spoke in support of SB129. She stated that the inability to find a dental provider is one potential barrier that would be addressed through the passage of SB129 to improve access to dental care. (Attachment 3)

Questions were asked by committee members.

Proponent, written only testimony was submitted by:

Rachel Monger, Vice President of Government Affairs, LeadingAge Kansas (Attachment 4)

Dennis Kriesel, Executive Director, Kansas Association of Local Health Departments (Attachment 5)

Katelyn Freund, RDH, BSDH, ECP-11, Dental Hygienist (Attachment 6)

Denise Cyzman, CEO, Community Care Network of Kansas (Attachment 7)

Kevin Robertson testified in opposition to SB129. He stated that having dental therapists has not improved access to dental care anywhere it has been enacted or decreased the cost of dental care to patients or taxpayers. He said the dental therapist concept is not the solution and the Kansas legislature has rejected this idea for ten consecutive years and he urges the committee to oppose SB129. (Attachment 8)

Dr. Allen Reavis gave opponent testimony stating that the dental therapy issue has persisted for over a decade and it becomes more irrelevant each year. The "dental deserts" are no longer an issue as there is improving access to care in these areas. Three factors have contributed to this change, 1) increasing dentists in Kansas at a rate higher than the population growth, 2) the KIND Program (Kansas Initiative for New Dentists) adding several dentists in under-served areas with more graduating soon and 3) growth of Federal Qualified Health Clinics and Safety Net Clinics into many under-served areas. (Attachment 9)

Dr. Jill Jenkins spoke in opposition to SB129. She said that after 15 years as a practicing pediatric dentist, that establishing a mid level service provider, or dental therapist, would create a tiered  system of healthcare in Kansas, inevitably leading to substandard care, especially for the most vulnerable, the children. (Attachment 10)

Dr. Matt Standridge gave opponent testimony. It is his opinion that time and resources would be much better suited to efforts in prevention, internships that promote exposure of professionals in training to practice opportunities in these areas, scholarship programs that promote students to go through training and to return to these areas, etc. (Attachment 11)

Dr. Lindy Linscott testified in opposition to SB129 saying that she does not think that dental therapy practice should be introduced in Kansas because 1) it would undermine the standard of dental care in Kansas, 2) it would not improve care to under-served areas and populations, 3) there are better ways to incentivize dentist to practice in under-served areas and, 4) the focus should be re-directed from this bill about dental therapists and extended care permits for dental hygienists to improving oral health education. (Attachment 12)

Alexandra Blasi stated her opposition to SB129, as written, is too far-reaching and appears much broader than the intended authority of the bill's intent. To ensure adequate protections are in place, the Board recommends limiting dispensing and administration to only medications prescribed by a licenses dentist. Furthermore, these privileges should be limited to oral health or dental needs. (Attachment 13)

Opponent, written only testimony was submitted by:

Dr. Mariah Frazier, Board Certified Pediatric Dentist (Attachment 14)

Dr. Aaron Huslig, DDS (Attachment 15)

Questions were asked by committee members.

Chairman Hilderbrand closed the hearing on SB129 and adjourned the meeting at 9:25 a.m. The next scheduled meeting is February 18, 2021.