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Wednesday
Mar142012

2012 Legislature: Regular Session Adjourns, Special Session Begins

Last Thursday, March 8, marked the end of the 2012 60-day legislative session. The regular session proved to be very eventful but the Legislature failed to pass a supplemental budget to close the $500 million shortfall in state’s current two year operating budget. As a result, Governor Chris Gregoire convened a special legislative session focused on passing a supplemental budget and other large budget issues. Special legislative sessions carry restrictions that do not exist during regular legislative sessions. Therefore, the Legislature can only focus on budget issues during this special session and cannot deliberate on other policy issues. Here’s a breakdown on what happened on the major legislation that WSDA followed during 2012 regular session:


What Passed:

SB 5620
SB 5620 authorizes the creation of certified dental anesthesia assistants (CDAA). CDAAs will be allowed to assistant oral surgeons will patient monitoring, initiate and discontinue intravenous lines, administer emergency medications, and perform are duties under direct verbal command. The Dental Quality Assurance Commission will now begin writing rule for the new law.

SB 6131
SB 6131 was a minor technical amendment to Washington’s bulk mercury law which takes effect in June. SB 6131 clarifies that dental amalgam and other commercial devices containing mercury (such as switches used in airplanes) are not included in a ban on the sale, purchase, or distribution of bulk mercury. SB 6131 was supported by the Department of Ecology, WSDA, and several business groups.

HB 2319
HB 2319 is Governor and Insurance Commissioner requested legislation for implementing the federal affordable care act in Washington. HB 2319 clarifies the responsibilities of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board of Directors, what health benefits must be included in health plans, and market rules for health plans offered inside and outside of the exchange. Under federal law, pediatric dental benefits must be offered in health plans offered in the exchange but HB 2319 requires that all dental plans must be offered separate from medical plans to ensure that consumers can more easily compare dental insurance options. WSDA will continue to monitor how the affordable care act will be implemented in Washington and advocate for the best interests of the profession and dental patients.

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Monday
Mar122012

WSDA Dentists Respond to ER Reports

WSDA President Dr. Rod Wentworth and Snohomish County Dental Society President Dr. Stephen Lee jointly wrote an editioral piece in the Everett Herald last Friday. The piece was written in response to an Everett Herald editorial about utilization of hospital emergency rooms for dental care.

The entire piece is included below or can be read here:

Education, state aid are essential

The Herald's editorial "Sign of a system in crisis" brings attention to the importance of oral health and the use of hospital emergency rooms by people with dental problems. The solution is seemingly simple: good oral health practices can prevent costly emergency room visits.

As dentists, we see two key barriers to this solution: lack of knowledge about the importance of oral health and Washington's fractured dental safety net. We believe finding cost effective solutions to these problems will reduce dental related emergency room visits and improve the overall health of our residents.

Low oral health literacy is one of the most significant barriers to dental care. Dentists cannot provide care unless patients see a need for treatment. Even among people with dental insurance, less than 60 percent visit the dentist for regular preventive care. Laws and regulation will not change this, but education can. The Washington Oral Health Foundation, the charitable arm of the Washington State Dental Association, works throughout the state in schools and community centers to educate people about the importance of oral health. Only when we address issues like fear, cultural and language barriers, and lack of knowledge will we begin to solve real problems for many Washingtonians.

Unfortunately, programs that provide dental care for low-income people have been severely cut in Olympia. That penny-wise, pound-foolish decision will result in more pain for patients and more expense for taxpayers. Washington dentists are doing their part, providing charity care to more than 100,000 patients in 2011 alone. However, charity care is not a sustainable health care system.

Some, like the Pew Foundation, suggest that a lesser trained person with no real supervision should treat the most vulnerable. As dentists we know that, instead of lowering the quality of care to those most in need, the better answer is dramatically ramped up prevention and oral health education programs -- prevent the problem before it becomes an emergency.


Dr. Rod Wentworth, president
Washington State Dental Association
Dr. Stephen Lee, president
Snohomish County Dental Society

Friday
Mar092012

JOEL BERG NAMED DEAN OF UWSoD

Dr. Joel Berg will become the next dean of the University of Washington School of Dentistry, UW Provost Ana Mari Cauce has announced. 
Dr. Berg, who had been Lloyd and Kay Chapman Chair for Oral Health at the School, heading the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, will assume his new post on Aug. 15, subject to approval by the UW Board of Regents.
He will succeed Tim DeRouen, who was appointed interim dean for the 2011-2012 academic year after the resignation of Martha Somerman. She had left the deanship after nine years to become director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
Dr. Berg, nationally prominent as president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), furthered his reputation as director of the Center for Pediatric Dentistry, a partnership between the UW and Seattle Children’s hospital. The new facility at Seattle’s Magnuson Park, which he planned and brought to fruition with its opening in September 2010, has a mission of pediatric clinical care, dental and parent education, and research. Its major focus lies in early intervention, with an emphasis on dental visits by age 1.

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Thursday
Mar082012

Cooperative venture between SKCDS and Swedish Hospital opens

Left to right: Dental assistant Tawnya Main, Dental resident Alison Hoover, and Dr. Franco Audia.

 
Swedish Hospital recently added adult specialty dental care to the list of free services available to low-income uninsured and underinsured patients at the Swedish Community Specialty Clinic (SCSC).
Staffed by local volunteer dentists and oral surgeons from the Seattle-King County Dental Society, the dental clinic will initially focus on difficult tooth extractions, but will eventually include other procedures, such as root canals.
The clinic, which is located on Swedish’s First Hill campus,  has three operatories paid for by community grants and the Swedish Foundation. Program administrators estimate that 25 volunteer dental professionals will see up to 450 patients in the first year of the clinic’s operation. As many as 45 volunteer dentists and oral surgeons will treat an estimated 2,000 patients in year two.
The dental clinic is designed as a referral-based service, with patients coming through the Swedish system, or through a variety of low-income community clinics authorized to refer patients.
SCSC opened in September 2010 with medical services, but because of the need for specialty dental care in our region, it was designed with space that would accommodate the operatories. 
Swedish partners with Project Access Northwest (PANW) for operational support. PANW personnel provide effective patient triage and case management, and work with SCSC support staff to help maintain dentist schedules and set initial visits and follow-ups.

Click to read more ...