April 11, 2011
WSDA’s advocacy on behalf of Washington’s underserved and uninsured populations has amassed an impressive collection of victories.
Legislative advocacy —
WSDA’s advocacy in Olympia has resulted in improved dental access.
Medicaid funds —
WSDA provided leadership in 1995 to secure $30 million in new funding for dental Medicaid. In 2006, WSDA establish the Coalition to Fund Dental Access, which brought another $15 million to Medicaid. The coalition has since fought to maintain state support for indigent dental care in the face of massive budget cuts.
Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) —
WSDA helped advocate in 1995 for funding and policy changes which created the nation’s first ABCD program. ABCD provides dentist and patient caregiver incentives that have expanded dental access to low-income children under the age of six.
School-based sealants —
WSDA worked with the Washington State Hygienists’ Association in 2001 on legislation to enable hygienists and assistants to provide prevention services in schools.
Licensure reform —
In 2003, WSDA sponsored legislation that removed outmoded licensure barriers so that qualified out-of-state dentists and hygienists could locate in Washington. The resulting in-migration has allowed Washington’s dental workforce to keep pace with the state’s population growth.
Expanded Function Dental Auxiliaries —
In 2007, WSDA sponsored legislation that created EFDAs, assistants who can place and carve restorations and work under general supervision for some duties. As a result, more than 100 EFDAs are licensed and helping to expand capacity in community health centers and dental offices statewide. Training programs in Spokane, Bellingham, Seattle, Olympia and Everett are educating more dental assistants to qualify as EFDAs.
Northwest Dental Residency —
WSDA advocated for legislation in 2005 that created the Yakima-based residency. Thirty-four dentists have completed the program, and six are currently enrolled. This has increased access to care for indigent and working poor patients in central and eastern Washington, as well as neighborhoods in Seattle.