Senator Joe Uecker (R–Miami Township), joined by Representative Terry Johnson (R–McDermott), today announced the introduction of legislation designed to increase Ohioans’ access to quality dental care.

Uecker and Johnson introduced companion versions of the bill in their respective chambers as Senate Bill 327 and House Bill 463.

“There have been 84 parts of our state identified as ‘Dental Shortage Areas,’ making it difficult for Ohioans in those regions to have access to quality dental services we know are so important to overall health,” said Uecker. “What we are doing through this bill is to streamline access to dental care by addressing multiple barriers that result in the current shortage.”

The legislation would specifically increase the number of dental hygienists that can practice under the supervision of one dentist and allows those hygienists and other professionals to provide certain services when the dentist is not present.

The bill also seeks to strengthen the Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program (ODLRP) by doubling its current capacity. The ODLRP is a program that is working to help current dentists pay off loans attributed to their education in exchange for helping service an under-served population of the state.

According to the American Dental Association, the average dental student in 2004 graduated with over $142,000 in student loan debt. Today, the average dental student holds more than $240,000 in debt upon graduation.

The legislation also establishes a working group on Medicaid reimbursement for dental services to ensure finances are not deterring lower income Ohioans from obtaining the care they need.

Both Senate Bill 327 and House Bill 463 have been introduced in their respective chambers and are awaiting hearings.

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