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Indiana Dental Hygienists Achieve Legislative Victory

Dental hygienists in Indiana achieved a major victory when House Enrolled Act 1116 passed the Senate with a vote of 49 to 0 and was signed into law by Governor Eric Holcomb on March 8, 2018.

From left: Indiana Dental Hygienists’ Association (IDHA) Legislative Chair Amanda Apple, LDH, BGS; IDHA Lobbyist Steve Beebe; Indiana Dental Association Lobbyist Ed Popchef; and IDHA President Heather Taylor, MPH, LDH.

Dental hygienists in Indiana achieved a major victory when House Enrolled Act 1116 passed the Senate with a vote of 49 to 0 and was signed into law by Governor Eric Holcomb on March 8, 2018. The bill, authored by Representative Dave Frizzell (R) and sponsored by Senator Jean Leising (R), provides dental hygienists with direct access to inbound nursing home residents and children without supervision via an access practice agreement with a contract dentist and the facility where the services will be provided.

Indiana Dental Hygienists’ Association (IDHA) Legislative Chair Amanda Apple, LDH, BGS, regional manager for Aspen Dental in Warsaw, Indiana, and IDHA President Heather Taylor, MPH, LDH, a health policy and management doctoral student at Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health-Indianapolis, spearheaded the effort to pass this legislation with the goal of improving access to care for Indiana’s most vulnerable residents.

“The passage of this bill means that these typically underserved populations will receive preventive oral health care. It also reinforces the need for restorative care, as many of these individuals don’t know they need professional dental care. In addition to preventive care, screening and referral to dentists will significantly impact the oral health of nursing home residents and children,” explains Apple.

Apple and Taylor, with the help of IDHA’s lobbyist Steve Beebe, presented the legislation initially in July to the Indiana Dental Association (IDA) to garner its support. With a few changes, the IDA did indeed support the bill, which helped the legislation’s swift passage.

Besides increasing access to care, Apple and Taylor also believe the bill is great for the profession of dental hygiene. “Direct access to patients will increase career satisfaction for dental hygienists, which supports career longevity. It also stimulates interprofessional competitiveness, which may improve quality of care. The bill offers significant benefits for all involved,” explains Apple.

HEA 1116 will go into effect on July 1, 2018. The IDHA will be offering continuing education opportunities this summer to ensure the quick implementation of the legislation.

From Dimensions of Dental HygieneApril 2018;16(4):12. 

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