S-0545.2  _______________________________________________


                         SENATE BILL 5321



State of Washington      55th Legislature     1997 Regular Session


By Senators Deccio, Thibaudeau, Wood, Fairley, Strannigan, Kohl, Oke and Winsley


Read first time 01/23/97.  Referred to Committee on Health & Long‑Term Care.


Improving access for oral health care services for rural and underserved populations.

    AN ACT Relating to improving access for oral health care services for rural and underserved populations; adding a new section to chapter 43.70 RCW; adding a new section to chapter 70.185 RCW; adding a new section to chapter 28B.115 RCW; creating new sections; and making an appropriation.




    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1.  The legislature finds that access to preventive and restorative oral health services by low-income families and eligible medicaid children is currently restricted by complex regulatory, financial, cultural, and geographic barriers that have resulted in a large number of children suffering unnecessarily from dental disease.  The legislature also finds that very early exposure to oral health care can significantly reduce the incidence of dental disease and reverse it in many cases, thereby significantly reducing costs of providing dental services to low-income populations.

    It is the intent of the legislature to provide access to oral health care services to medicaid eligible and low-income families and children and other dentally underserved populations by addressing some identified barriers.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2.  A new section is added to chapter 43.70 RCW to read as follows:

    (1) Within available funds, the department shall provide dental programs in all public health jurisdictions state-wide in order to improve access to oral health services for low-income families and currently underserved populations.

    (2) Within available funds, public health jurisdictions shall:

    (a) Develop and distribute educational information explaining good oral hygiene practices;

    (b) Organize local oral health coalitions with representatives from both the dental and nondental communities whose mission is to raise awareness of the oral health needs of the community and to recruit local general and speciality dentists to serve medicaid and low-income families;

    (c) Create an outreach program to target children who need oral health care services;

    (d) Identify low-income school populations for expanded school-based sealant programs; and

    (e) Promote the addition of fluoride to communities with public water systems serving over one thousand connections.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3.  The sum of three hundred thousand dollars, or as much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated for the biennium ending June 30, 1999, from the general fund to the department of health for the purpose of carrying out focused dental sealant programs in schools.  The department of health shall:  (1) Allocate the funds in the most cost-effective manner, consistent with local assessments of needs and community prevention efforts, and (2) take into account the best community resources available to perform the procedures, such as migrant community health clinics, tribal health clinics, or public health jurisdictions.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 4.  The University of Washington school of dentistry's senior dental extern program, dental hygiene degree completion program, and graduate pediatric dental program shall continue to serve rural and underserved children through training programs at the Yakima valley farm workers clinic and Yakima neighborhood health services.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 5.  A new section is added to chapter 70.185 RCW to read as follows:

    The department shall utilize the available funds in the recruitment and retention program to target dentists and dental hygienists who wish to practice in remote and underserved areas of the state.


    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 6.  A new section is added to chapter 28B.115 RCW to read as follows:

    The board shall target dentists and dental hygienists who wish to practice in remote and underserved areas of the state when allocating funds for the loan repayment and scholarship program.


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