Feb. 28, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Sharon Kayne, Communications Director, NM Voices for Children
505-361-1288 (direct), 505-401-8709 (c), email@example.com
OR: Marie-Pier Frigon, Communications Assistant, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dental Therapy Legislation Headed to Its First Senate Committee after Passing Overwhelmingly in the House 61-2
SANTA FE, NM – The House of Representatives passed legislation that would make it easier for New Mexicans who are low-income, publicly insured or uninsured, or living in rural and tribal areas to access dental care. HB 308, carried by lead sponsor Rep. Doreen Gallegos (D-District 52) and Rep. Gail Armstrong (R-District 49), passed a House floor vote last Friday. The bill now moves to the Senate Public Affairs Committee, where it’s scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, March 5. The Senate version of the bill is sponsored by Sen. Benny Shendo, Jr. (D-District 22).
“The overwhelming support that the dental therapist bill received on the floor of the House, with a vote of 61-2, shows that New Mexico is committed to addressing the crisis in access to dental care head on,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which is a member of the New Mexico Dental Therapist Coalition. “We ask the Senate to treat this crisis with the same urgency.”
HB 308 represents a ground-breaking compromise between all parties as they come together to improve the oral health of all New Mexicans. Nearly 900,000 New Mexicans live in areas without enough dentists, with the burden falling heavily on rural, tribal, and low-income communities. More than 25 percent of elementary-aged children in New Mexico have untreated tooth decay, which impacts their ability to succeed in school.
Dental therapists are licensed dental practitioners who work as part of dentist-led teams to expand access to care. Similar to the way a physician’s assistant contributes to a medical team, dental therapists offer routine and preventive care, and complement the work of dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants, increasing the productivity and reach of the dental care team.
The NM Dental Therapist Coalition is a statewide group that includes tribal leaders, dentists, service organizations, oral health providers, nonprofits, local governments, and educational entities, among many others. More information on the dental therapy effort in New Mexico, as well as a full list of the New Mexico Dental Therapist Coalition’s extensive membership, is available online at www.nmdentaltherapists.org.