Vermont embraces dental therapists: will New Mexico act?

Vermont, a liberal state not necessarily know for policy innovation (at least not in a free market direction) has become the latest state to embrace the concept of dental therapy. The Governor, Peter Shumlin, signed a bill today that paves the way for dental therapists to practice in the State.

As Rio Grande Foundation research director Dowd Muska noted in an opinion piece earlier this year,

Over 63 percent of New Mexicans live in areas where there are shortages of dental-health personnel. Allowing these professionals to carry out some activities that have previously been only available under the direct care of dentists would improve accessibility in rural and underserved communities. It can also create new business opportunities for entrepreneurial dentists.

Healthier teeth, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in rural communities at no cost to the taxpayer, who could argue with that? Folks in Vermont didn’t. It would be nice if New Mexico’s elected officials took a cue — just this once — from their counterparts in the Green Mountain State.