|Heath & Human Services Committee Unanimously approves $7 Million Bond for Dental School But...
Human Services Committee, with several Members of the Appropriations Committee, unanimously approved LD 1798, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Create Access to Dental Care throughout the State. MDAC presented testimony on behalf of the legislation. The ultimate fate of the bond proposal will depend on negotiations about this year's state budget, which will be finalized very soon, and also in negotiations between Republican and Democrats on the size and content of the bond package.
Legislative Leadership needs to hear from those who support a dental school for Maine: Speaker Pingree (207) 287-1300, Senate President Mitchell (207) 287-1500, Republican House Leader Tardy (207)287-1440 and Senate Republican Leader Raye (207)287-1505. Leadership web links are:
Democratic Leadership , House Leadership , Senate
. Senator Bartlett, Senator Courtney, Representative Piotti and Speaker Pingree, Senator Diamond, Representatives Cain, Martin and Webster have already co-sponsored the legislation. They can be thanked and encouraged to continue to prioritize the bond. Appropriations Committee members who will be key in deciding the final fate of the bill, are Senator Diamond, Representative Cain, Senator Rosen and Representative Millet.
MDAC support the bill because:
LD 1798 will help all of Maine, rural and urban, from Fort Kent to Kittery and Eastport to Jackman, from Portland to Patten.
- Every state dollar will go to increase access to dental clinics.
- The result will be an estimated additional 60,000 patient visits per year.
- These dental clinics and the school are self funding.
- Maine is already among the most underserved states for dental access in the nation. In the next ten years 20% of currently practicing Maine dentists will be the age of retirement.
- The need for care is urgent, this will increase community based access.
- The bill will create jobs. The economic impact of construction with multiplier is $37.5 million. Even better, the ongoing jobs will create an annual payroll of $35 million.
- The largest unneeded emergency room cost in MaineCare is for oral health emergencies, which costs millions and only provides antibiotics and pain medications without curing disease. Increasing clinic capacity can provide better care at a lower lower cost.
Other Legislative News
LD 1773 "An Act To Improve Dental Insurance Coverage for Maine Children"
passed unanimously in the Insurance and Financial Services Committee and is headed for the second reading by the full legislature. The bill requires health insurance policies, contracts and certificates that provide dental plans to provide coverage of dependent children from birth if the policyholder elects to participate in the dependent coverage plan.
Dental CarePartners in Lincoln CountyLincoln County CarePartners, a MaineHealth program providing care to the uninsured, has added a dental component. It is the first CarePartners program to do so. Uninsured residents of Lincoln County who qualify for CarePartners and who have an urgent dental need - as determined by an assessment provided by an Independent Practice Dental Hygienist- can get referred to one of six volunteer dentists for a co-payment of $25. The project is new and so far, all reports are that it is working well for everyone concerned.
Dental Wellness Center Opens in Biddeford for UninsuredThe Biddeford Free Clinic's Dental Wellness Center, has just opened. Community Dental has donated the use of it's new Biddeford facility after hours, where volunteer dentists treat those without the ability to pay for oral health care. There will an Open House on March 24th for the Free Clinic and an opportunity to tour the new Biddeford Community Dental Health Center facility. Call 207-282-1305 for more information.