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WSDA approves alternative to dental midlevel provider

Walla Walla, Wash.—Policy approved by the Washington State Dental Association House of Delegates Sept. 15 to create a supervised dental extender “will allow WSDA to enter the 2013 legislative session with a positive position based on maintaining the integrity of dental practice and safeguarding patient safety,” the House said.

The WSDA House passed “a supervised extender as an alternative to the dental midlevel provider legislation we have fought against in Olympia during the last two legislative sessions,” Dr. Danny Warner, WSDA president, said in a letter to members explaining the new policy.

The House approved HD-13-2012 by a 58-20 margin with one abstention as a response to “this campaign for dental therapists” and with the stated intent of deterring legislation for new oral health workforce models. The legislation would expand the scope of practice of expanded function dental auxiliaries and create advanced function dental auxiliaries limited to working in federally qualified health centers (FQHCs).

The legislation also must meet core principles “defined and reaffirmed by the House of Delegates and other parameters articulated in this resolution.”

“After two consecutive years with dental therapist legislation and growing support among legislators and advocacy groups, the odds of having some sort of dental midlevel provider established in Washington state have moved from possible to almost inevitable,” said the HD-13-2012 background statement.

In the Board resolution offered to the House of Delegates, the WSDA Board of Directors “acknowledges that this is a controversial measure but remains convinced that without an alternative proposal, dentistry’s legislative position will be ineffective and will suffer an unwelcome outcome. If approved, this resolution will allow WSDA to enter the 2013 legislative session with a positive position based on maintaining the integrity of dental practice and safeguarding patient safety.”

“Support for dental midlevel provider legislation continues to grow and includes the support of influential legislators, national foundations, hygienists, outside advocacy groups, and others,” the statement said. “Defeating dental midlevel legislation for two consecutive years proves the effectiveness of organized dentistry; however midlevel provider supporters are planning to introduce new legislation in 2013.”

WSDA “worked with legislators” in 2011 and 2012 to defeat dental therapist legislation, the statement said. The WSDA also offered a chart comparing the differences between 2012 mid-level legislation and HD-13-2012.