Wisconsin Dental Association: New charity dental care law gives boost to first WDA Mission of Mercy

CONTACT: Carol S. Weber, APR, Director of Public Relations

PHONE: 414-755-4108 (direct)

E-MAIL: [email protected]

WEST ALLIS, WIS., May 13, 2009 – Gov. Jim Doyle signed Assembly Bill 103 into law today as 2009 Wisconsin Act 10 creating a temporary, no-fee permit for out-of-state dental professionals who want to travel to Wisconsin and volunteer at charitable care programs like the Wisconsin Dental Association’s first Mission of Mercy in La Crosse this June.

The 2,900 WDA dentists are grateful to state legislators Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse), Sen. Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse), Rep. Chris Danou (D-Trempealeau) and Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) for working with their colleagues to secure timely, bipartisan passage of the charity dental care permit legislation.

The WDA and WDA Foundation are teaming to bring an estimated 1,000 dentists, dental hygienists and assistants and community volunteers to the La Crosse City Center to serve some 1,200 adults and children. Patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis June 26 and 27. Set up, volunteer orientation and cleanup are on June 25 and 28.

Approximately $600,000 in free care is expected to be delivered with emphasis on basics such as fillings, extractions and cleanings. Limited lab work including stainless-steel crowns for children and treatment partials will be offered. The program is unable to treat patients with specific medically-compromising conditions such as extremely high blood pressure or severe disabilities.

Collaborating organizations include La Crosse District Dental Society, La Crosse Area Dental Care Advocacy Coalition, La Crosse County Health Department, Marquette University School of Dentistry, Viterbo School of Nursing, Delta Dental of Wisconsin, Henry Schein Dental and America’s Dentists Care Foundation. Dental supply companies are also generous in their support.

Tax-deductible financial donations and in-kind contributions may be made to the WDA Foundation to help cover $133,000 in dental equipment and facility rental, supplies, pharmaceuticals and food costs for this four-day charitable care event. Visit http://www.wda.org for more information.

Almost 1 million Wisconsin residents enroll in the state dental MA, BadgerCare and BadgerCare Plus programs during a 1-year period. In Wisconsin, state and federal governments spend less than 1 percent or just $38 million of a $4.4 billion annual MA budget on oral health programs for children and adults.

“Dentists do serve, but charity alone is not a sufficient health care delivery system for meeting the needs of the state’s low-income population,” explains WDA President Dr. H. Michael Kaske of Twin Lakes. “Many actions are needed, but the most important way to make a difference in the future oral health of low-income adults and children is for state lawmakers to place a higher priority on dental MA funding.”