MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed a package of bipartisan legislation aimed at expanding access to dental care and addressing dental workforce shortages across the state into law Wednesday.
U.S. Health Resources Administration data released this month found shortages of dental care in 160 areas of Wisconsin, defined as geographic areas, facilities or populations experiencing a shortage of care providers.
The package Evers signed includes five bills, including one that authorizes licenses for dental therapists who practice in areas experiencing shortages in care. Dental therapists are positions between a dentist and a hygienist — they can fill cavities but can’t perform more complex operations like root canals.
Other bills in the package create guidelines for distributing $20 million in state aid for technical colleges’ dental training programs, create scholarships for Marquette University dental students who agree to practice in underserved areas, allow dental workers from out of state to practice in Wisconsin, and allow insurers to send reimbursements directly to a provider rather than the patient if the patient requests it.
Evers signed the bills at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau.