Wisconsin Dental Therapy Coalition, (608) 512-1280, [email protected]
Coalition grows to over 50 Groups Who Want Dental Therapists to Practice in State
Madison, WI—Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, SSM Health, Anthem, Ascension, UW Health, the Wisconsin Hospital Association, and the Independent Physicians Network have joined dozens of other groups who want to see Wisconsin allow dental therapists practice to help alleviate the oral health crisis in Wisconsin. Legislation by State Representative Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) and state Senator David Craig (R-Town of Vernon) would allow dental therapists, mid-level practitioners, similar to a physician’s assistant in medicine, to practice in Wisconsin under the supervision of a dentist. Dental therapists would provide increased access to quality dental care for Wisconsinites across the state. They can also provide both preventative and restorative treatments in community settings like schools and nursing homes. In Wisconsin a staggering 64 of 72 counties face dental shortages, affecting 1.2 million Wisconsinites. While over 1 million residents depend on Medicaid for dental benefits, only 37% of Wisconsin dentists accept Medicaid, many citing low reimbursement rates as the chief concern. This plays a major role in why Wisconsin rates 45th of all states in the portion of Medicaid children who saw a dentist in 2017. The lower salaries of dental therapists can help practices serve more Medicaid patients. Currently ten states have approved dental therapy programs, including one of the longest running programs, in Minnesota, and one of the more recently passed, in Michigan.