Two bills critical to Georgia’s seniors pass overwhelmingly today

Two bills critical to Georgia’s seniors pass overwhelmingly today

Dental hygiene legislation passes in both Chambers

Atlanta, GA (February 10, 2017) – In a rare occurrence, two separate bills on the same issue, both critical to the health of Georgia’s older adults, were passed this morning in the House and the Senate. SB 12 and HB 154 passed with respective majorities of 48 to 1 and 163 to 1, after years of controversy. Both bills legislate the ability of dental hygienists to work in private practice and safety net settings under the supervision of practicing, licensed dentists.  The bills address the dramatic disparities in dental care for residents of long-term care facilities, and for homebound and non-institutionalized adults.  Seniors from across Georgia voted this program in 2016 as a top priority for CO-AGE (the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly).  

“Chairman Sharon Cooper has been the champion of this legislation for seniors,” said Vicki Johnson, Chair of the Georgia Council on Aging.  “Georgia has many dental deserts.  Some 118 of Georgia’s 159 counties are considered areas of dental health professional shortage. Expanding the oral healthcare workforce, especially dental hygienists, will decrease barriers to access, particularly in underserved and vulnerable population.”

HB 154 authorizes a dentist, without being on site, to supervise up to four licensed dental hygienists in nursing homes, volunteer community health settings, etc. It was sponsored by Sharon Cooper 43rd. 

Sen. Renee Unterman 45th sponsored SB 12 that mirrors HB 154. The bill also provides for evaluation of the impact of this change.