How are legislators supposed to decide on the relative competencies of healthcare practitioners?
In these matters, we are asking lawmakers to make a tough decision on topics outside their expertise. In some cases, it’s not the public that’s asking, but the practitioners of healthcare professions.
The dental therapist bill came back this year, but did not have enough — pardon the pun — teeth.
The bill was widely publicized and debated in 2014. It attempted to create a new mid-level category of dental practitioner to provide care in underserved rural communities, based on a model that has been successful in other states. Last year, the bill stopped in a Senate committee. This year, the House version of the bill (HB 349, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan), passed the House and went no further.
Its companion Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Benny Shendo Jr., D-Jemez Pueblo, stalled in committee.
Though the details are technical, the argument is simple. Small rural communities need dental services, which the state’s dentists are not providing, but dentists are concerned about competency and training.
As a dentist told me, you never know when a simple procedure like an extraction is going to be complicated until you do it and see what’s underneath.