An excellent KOB TV story recently highlighted problem of rural health care in New Mexico including Harding County which doesn’t have a single dentist practicing within its borders. The good news is that we have the solution. HB 264, the “Access to Dental Care Act” would create a new level of mid-level dental providers (dental therapists) that would put a serious dent in this problem. By creating a new subset of providers who don’t have to take on dentist-level-debt, but could provide basic procedures, we could see great benefits in our rural communities.
It is to be heard in the House State Government, Veterans, and Indian Affairs Committee on Tuesday, February 28.
One Reply to “Dental therapy legislation could address “dental deserts” like Harding County (as seen on KOB)”
40% of New Mexicans are on Medicaid. That’s an average number. In rural parts of the state, the figure is way over 40%. Unstated in the Channel 4 news story is the fact that the majority of dental patients in rural parts of the state want to pay the bill with Medicaid. Medicaid reimbursement rates are so low for dentists, that I do not know a single one who accepts it in Albuquerque. (There is also the problem of no shows for appointments for which Medicaid pays nothing.) So the dental assistant program MAY work if Medicaid reimbursement rates are high enough. If not, good luck.