On Tuesday, July 22nd the Massachusetts State Senate unanimously passed S-2819 “An Act to Improve, Promote and Protect the Oral Health of the Commonwealth. Now, with two days left in the legislative year, the bill is awaiting consideration in the House of Representatives.
Why is this legislation so important? If enacted, S2819 would permit registered dental hygienists, who practice in public health settings such as schools, Head Start programs, nursing homes, etc., to provide preventive oral health services to underserved, MassHealth recipients without the supervision of a dentist. In addition, the bill would establish registration and career laddering for dental assistants and enhance the oral health infrastructure in Massachusetts.
I was fortunate to be sitting in the Senate Gallery listening to Senator Harriett Chandler’s presentation as well as supporting remarks from other legislators, including Senator Dianne Wilkerson, the lead champion of public health practice for dental hygienists. I felt that I was witnessing history in the making and had goosebumps when the roll call vote took place. My dream that all citizens in the Commonwealth could have ACCESS to preventive oral health services in public health settings had passed its first hurdle toward becoming a reality.
I fervently hope that the Massachusetts House of Representatives will place this historic oral health legislation on their calendar for a vote before this legislative session ends.
Katherine M. Pelullo, RDH, MEd
Massachusetts Dental Hygienists’ Association
This program aired on July 30, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.