Crist Signs Bill Increasing Access to Dental Care

JACKSONVILLE – House Bill 1367, sponsored by Representative Stan Jordan, addresses the shortage of Medicaid dentists in Florida by changing Florida’s licensure requirements to allow licensed dentists from other states to work in health care settings that serve some of Florida’s most vulnerable citizens.

“This legislation is a vital part of my commitment to improving the health of all Floridians,” Governor Crist said. “By increasing the number of dentists eligible to practice in our state, we can help give children, adults and seniors the dental care that is so important for their overall health.”

The legislation expands Florida’s current workforce of dentists who treat low-income and under served residents. Only about 10 percent of Florida dentists participate in Medicaid. While Florida has one dentist per 1,961 Floridians, there is one dentist per 9,747 Medicaid-eligible children and one dentist per 41,039 Medicaid-eligible adults.

The bill signed today addresses the dentist shortage by allowing dentists licensed in other states to work in health care settings such as county health departments, nonprofit community health centers, Head Start facilities and colleges of dentistry. Dentists with licenses in good standing from other states, who have been in practice for at least two years, will be eligible to participate.

Participating dentists will become eligible for a full Florida dental license after 5,000 hours of service in a “health access setting,” which is equivalent to about 2.5 years of full-time practice. Those who have served as dentists within the U.S. Armed Services, or who currently serve as a teacher within a public educational setting, will become eligible for full licensure after 3,000 hours. After completing the period of service, participating dentists will be exempt from the current requirement to sit for the written national board examinations; however, participating dentists will still take Florida’s clinical dental examination to become licensed.

"Many children and seniors and other Floridians go without dental care," said Representative Stan Jordan. "This will provide more dentists so we can start serving these people. This is a great step forward."

“We were pleased to assist Governor Crist in his effort to increase the number of qualified dentists working in public health facilities and helping to treat Florida’s low-income population,” said Dr. Theodore Haeussner, president of the Florida Dental Association. “The Florida Dental Association remains committed to helping improve the oral-health of all Floridians and commends Governor Crist on his leadership with this initiative.”