|WDA Legislative Day 2011:
Two non-fiscal ideas would improve dental care delivery
WDA President Dr. Gene Shoemaker
My dentist colleagues from throughout Wisconsin and I will meet with legislators and staff on March 30 to discuss important, viable and cost-effective ways to get more state residents the dental health care they need.
Oral health is critical to overall health, and the WDA urges support of two non-fiscal bills that will reduce barriers to good oral health care in our state.
We are proposing Dental Practice Act changes that would do two things:
- Broaden the state's definition of dentistry by adopting the American Dental Association definition, which allows dentists to offer patients new treatment options and services based on latest scientific and technological advances within the profession.
- Enable dentists to delegate more duties - such as placing sealants and removing sutures - to educated and trained dental assistants under their supervision. This measure would increase the capacity of Wisconsin's dental practices and professionals to more efficiently and cost-effectively deliver care to more patients.
Our other priority item is non-covered services legislation that would prohibit dental plans from setting fees for services that are not reimbursed by the benefit plan. Ending this practice would expand Wisconsin patients' access to dental care by allowing treatment decisions to be made between the patient and the dentist without interference by a third party that has chosen not to cover the service.
We'll talk about these bills further, and answer any questions you may have, during our meetings in the Capitol next week. Thank you in advance for taking the time to meet and talk with us. Working together, we can help ensure Wisconsin residents have access to the dental care that is so important to their health and the health of our state.
Dr. Shoemaker is a practicing general dentist in Waukesha.
|Issue Highlight: Dental education in Wisconsin
Three dental education issues have become hot topics in the Capitol, and we want to take this opportunity to share WDA's position on these important measures.
WDA supports: Marquette University School of Dentistry expansion
MUSOD is pursuing $8 million in state support to help fund a $16 million expansion that would make more space available for clinical practices and research. In turn, this would help recruit and retain faculty, provide for 20 more students per class (from 80 to 100) and increase the number of Wisconsin residents treated in MUSOD clinics.
Marquette, founded in 1894, is an accredited institution with a proven ability to graduate top-quality dentists and has long partnered with the state to provide cost-effective care to low-income residents. Additionally, WDA believes expanding an existing, proven institution - versus establishing a new one - is a faster, more efficient and less-costly way to deliver oral health care to Wisconsin residents.
WDA opposes: Second dental school in Wisconsin
The Marshfield Clinic has obtained $10 million in state bonding through the Wisconsin Building Commission for what the organization finally admits would be a second dental school in the state.
The WDA and MUSOD share the view that the hasty decision to spend limited state funds to subsidize an unaccredited second dental school in northern Wisconsin was short-sighted and will create a negative, long-term financial drain on scarce state resources. Expanding Marquette's accredited dental school will continue to produce the necessary number of high-quality dentists at a fraction of the cost.
WDA supports: Accredited urban and rural dental residency programs
Regardless of which accredited Wisconsin institutions offer them, these efforts would complement the existing, quality curriculum at Marquette; could allow dental residents to treat more patients, thereby reducing barriers to care; and would provide recent dental graduates with additional experience practicing in underserved areas.
If you'd like to discuss these issues further, please contact WDA Government Affairs Director Mara Brooks at 608-250-3442 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|'Give Kids A Smile' brings nearly $750,000 in donated dental care to Wisconsin children in February
More than 5,100 low-income Wisconsin children received approximately $750,000 in donated dental care during the month of February as part of the ninth annual Give Kids A Smile®, a national children's dental access event sponsored by the ADA and state groups like the WDA.
At least 360 Wisconsin dentists, along with dental team members, students, faculty and community advocates volunteered their time and skills to get underserved children out of pain, treat dental disease and provide them and their parents with important personal oral health instruction.
GKAS events were held throughout Wisconsin in private dental practices and large-scale dental clinics. Since 2003, oral health professionals have donated $5 million in free care through GKAS.
"We have a serious dental access problem throughout the state of Wisconsin. Dentists give generously of their time and expertise, but it is not enough," said Dr. Nicolet DeRose, chair of the Racine County GKAS program. "Dental care for children is important and we all need to work together to solve this problem. Our hope is that someday soon, a program such as GKAS will not be necessary."
More information and photos from Wisconsin GKAS events are available on the WDA website.
|2011 'Mission of Mercy' coming to Wausau in June
WDA and the WDA Foundation are teaming up for their third annual Mission of Mercy, also known as MOM, to provide an estimated $1 million in free dental care to 2,000 children and adults on June 24 and 25 at the Greenheck Field House in Wausau. A team of more than 950 volunteers - including dentists, dental hygienists, assistants and MUSOD students - will donate their time and skills to treat 1,000 patients each day.
Legislators are invited and encouraged to visit or even volunteer at Mission of Mercy - it's a moving and impactful illustration of the need to remove barriers and expand access to oral health care in Wisconsin. Watch for more on MOM in the next WDA Healthy Choices E-Lert.