Aug 10
Volunteer dental legislation sponsored by the Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) was recently signed into law by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Senate bill 2567­, An Act Relative to Volunteer Dentistry, was enacted and laid before the governor on July 29, 2010, and was signed on August 10. This legislation will allow retired dentists, who are not currently deriving income from their profession, to qualify for a volunteer dental license. Upon receipt of this license, dentists will be allowed to volunteer their time providing care in a variety of established, low-income, and free care settings. The creation of volunteer licenses is expected to have an immediate impact on low-income children and families as retired dentists will have the chance to bring their expertise and skills to free care clinics throughout Massachusetts. “This bill will provide the necessary access to licensing for retired dentists to volunteer their time and skills to communities who need it most,” says Representative John Scibak (D-Hadley), a co-chairman of the legislative oral health caucus. “Given the current challenging economic conditions and the cut of Adult Dental in MassHealth, incentives for volunteer dentistry services are needed now more than ever.” The bill also allows dentists from outside of Massachusetts to receive a volunteer dental license to travel to the commonwealth for educational or teaching purposes. “This legislation allows for additional continuing education opportunities through a temporary registration, which will lead to much needed increased economic activity as out-of-state dentists and their families spend money in our hotels, restaurants, transportation, and entertainment venues while visiting the state,” says Senator Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester). All volunteers will have to comply with existing state rules and regulations to qualify for the license, except that the biennial license fee would be waived. This provision ensures that dentists are not penalized financially for providing free dental care. In addition, those who apply for a volunteer license will have to show proof of licensure in another jurisdiction, and also document that they are only travelling to Massachusetts for teaching or educational purposes.