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Ohio governor signs access-to-care bill

January 13, 2015

Dr. Paumier
Columbus, Ohio
— Legislation enacted by Gov. John Kasich will improve access to dental care in underserved areas of the state, said Dr. Thomas Paumier, Ohio Dental Association president.

"This bill will improve access to much needed dental care for all Ohioans in a safe, effective way," Dr. Paumier said. "The Ohio Dental Association would like to thank the governor and the General Assembly for passing this important legislation."

The legislation will double the capacity of the Ohio Dentist Student Loan Repayment program, which provides loan repayment assistance for new dental graduates who practice in a designated shortage area and treat patients regardless of their ability to pay. Since the program's 2003 inception, 23 dentists have relocated to practice in underserved areas, according to David Owsiany, ODA executive director. "We know there are dentists who are graduating with immense amounts of loan debt, and this is one way they can get some relief from that," he said. "Most importantly, the citizens of Ohio get the benefit of having another dental provider in their community."

The bill also creates a Medicaid Payment Rates for Dental Services Workgroup of legislators, practicing dentists and Ohio Department of Medicaid and Ohio Department of Public Health representatives to analyze the state Medicaid program and make policy and reimbursement recommendations.  

The program is funded by a surcharge in the state dental licensing fee. Ohio dentists must renew licenses every two years. The surcharge will rise from $20 to $40, doubling the program's annual funding. For more information on this legislation see the ODA Today report at oda.org.