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Arizona Votes Against Midlevel Practitioners

As momentum continues in the push to improve access to oral health care, Arizona has experienced a setback in its efforts to expand the scope of practice for dental hygienists.

As momentum continues in the push to improve access to oral health care, Arizona has experienced a setback in its efforts to expand the scope of practice for dental hygienists. In Arizona, requests for regulation changes or expansion of scope of practice must be submitted via the state’s sunrise review process. According to the Arizona State Legislature website, “Applicant groups must submit a written report to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.” After the report is submitted, a committee—comprising 10 members of the Senate Health and Human Services and House Health Committee of Reference—studies the application and presents its recommendations to the governor and other legislative branches. It was during the committee’s review of a sunrise application submitted by Dental Care for AZ—outlining the need for and benefits of licensure of midlevel practitioners— that the application was rejected in an 8-1 vote. Only Senator Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) voted in favor of the legislation, citing high costs as a hindrance to many Arizona residents in need of oral health care, while another member abstained. The Dental Care for AZ sunrise application sought to expand the scope of practice for dental hygienists with additional training so they may perform basic restorative procedures, such as fillings, crowns, and simple extractions. Despite this defeat, supporters of the Dental Care for AZ sunrise application will continue to advocate for and educate lawmakers on the benefits of expanding the scope of practice for oral health professionals.

From Dimensions of Dental HygieneMarch 2017;15(3):16. 

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