By Alexandra Glorioso, POLITICO Florida
A trade group representing dentists is backing a bill from state Rep. Michael Grant (R-Port Charlotte) that would revive a defunct loan-repayment program for dentists who see low-income patients.
Florida has had difficulty providing dental care to Medicaid and other low-income patients, a problem that’s particularly acute in rural areas.
The Florida Dental Association believes the problem is rooted in geography. The measure filed today, FL HB465 (19R), would encourage recent dental graduates to work in less-populated areas, such as Immokalee outside Naples, in exchange for having loans repaid by the state.
“The reality is that there are Floridians with unmet dental needs and nowhere to go, and that is an urgent issue we are working to address,” Dr. Jolene Paramore, president of the dental association, told POLITICO in a statement.
Paramore said the program could get off the ground in six months since it’s been implemented in Florida before. The bill would repay loans for 10 dentists each year at a recurring cost of $500,000 a year.
“If the proposed dental student loan repayment program is implemented for five years, more than one million patients will be treated by participating dentists during that time,” Paramore said.
In addition, the bill would establish a volunteer program that would contract with the Dental Lifeline Network to provide dental care to low-income patients for free.
This article was published on POLITICO Pro on Jan. 23, 2019 and can be found here.