January 18, 2019
Human Services Committee, North Dakota House of Representatives
Re: ATR Support for House Bill 1426
Dear Chairman Weisz and Members of the House Human Services Committee,
On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across North Dakota, I urge you to support House Bill 1426 which would allow dental therapists to practice in the state.
This bill would expand access to dental care for the people of North Dakota, making services more affordable and eventually saving taxpayer dollars. Often, legislation aimed at increasing health care options for underserved populations does so at significant cost to taxpayers. HB 1426 however, does not, as it instead expands options through the market at no cost to the state.
Dentists who want to expand their practices to include educated and qualified mid-level practitioners should be free to do so. The Trump administration agrees, having recently included this suggestion its December report “Reforming America’s Healthcare System Through Choice and Competition,” urging states to adopt this practice.
Dental therapists are highly educated, and thoroughly trained and tested professionals who operate as part of a larger dental team. They focus on preventative and restorative treatments under the supervision of a dentist. Dental therapists concentrate on necessary routine services, making it possible for dental offices to accept a higher volume of low-cost procedures. Meanwhile, dentists are able to focus on more complex cases. Bringing this arrangement to North Dakota would be a win for entrepreneurial dentists who are trying to expand their services and a win for patients who currently struggle to access dental care in many parts of the state.
In addition, the creation of this new mid-level position would also be a win for North Dakota taxpayers. Dental shortages make it difficult, if not impossible, for many patients to catch oral health issues while they are small, treatable, and less expensive. Too often, this results in problems being discovered at more complex stages in the emergency room. This is not only dangerous for patients, but is also more costly to taxpayers, who in many cases are forced to foot the bill.
Americans for Tax Reform supports a wide range of free market solutions to today’s health care issues. It is undeniable that there is a dentist shortage, particularly in underserved and rural areas of the state. H.B. 1426 would help to alleviate this issue by permitting, but not requiring, small businesses to hire dental therapists and the state should not stand in the way. Minnesota, Maine, Arizona, Michigan, and Alaska have already created this mid-level practitioner and North Dakota should follow suit.
Allowing dental therapists to practice in North Dakota would expand access to dental care for those who need it most, and reduce health care costs over the long term for patients and taxpayers. I urge you support and approve H.B. 1426.
Americans for Tax Reform