Bill to Improve Tribal Dental Care Clears Legislature
OLYMPIA (AP) — The first bill to clear the Washington state Legislature this year will allow tribes access to federal dollars when using midlevel dental care providers, known as dental therapists.
The News Tribune says Senate Bill 5079 sponsored by state Sen. John McCoy, a Tulalip Democrat, sailed through House on an 80-18 vote Thursday after getting unanimous approval in the Senate.
Dental therapists, who provide preventative care and procedures such as oral exams, aren't legal in the state but as sovereign nations, tribes can allow them to operate. A federal measure, however, says states must approve dental therapists for tribes to pay for their services through Medicaid, a government program for low-income people.
The Washington State Dental Association had opposed the concept of dental therapists, but didn't oppose this bill — in part to make peace with tribes that have fought for the legislation.