Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/20/2001 09:22 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 81(FIN)                                                                                              
     "An Act extending  the termination date of the  Board of Dental                                                            
     Examiners;  relating  to  the  Board of  Dental  Examiners  and                                                            
     regulation  of  the  practice  of dentistry;  and  relating  to                                                            
     dental hygienists and dental assistants."                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGH FATE,  sponsor,  introduced HB  81.  He  stated                                                            
that until Title 8 of the  Alaska Statutes (AS), the Board of Dental                                                            
Examiners would  terminate on June  30, 2001.  A report released  by                                                            
the Legislative  Budget and Audit  Committee (LBA) recommended  that                                                            
the Legislature  extend  the Board's  date to June  30, 2005,  which                                                            
is  the  focus of  HB  81.   He  claimed  that  the  regulation  and                                                            
licensing  of qualified dentists  and hygienists  would benefit  the                                                            
public's safety and welfare.                                                                                                    
Representative  Fate  added  that HB  81  also addresses  issues  of                                                            
concern  to the  Dental Board  of Examiners  and  the Alaska  Dental                                                            
Society.  HB  81 attempts to clear  up some duplicate and  confusing                                                            
language, reduces  paperwork, expands  the definition of  dentistry,                                                            
addresses   dental   testing   and   equivalency    options,   Board                                                            
appointments  and increases  the allowable  civil fine penalty  that                                                            
the Board can impose.                                                                                                           
CATHERINE  REARDON, Director,  Division of  Occupational  Licensing,                                                            
Department  of Community  and Economic  Development,  addressed  the                                                            
statute changes.   She added that  there are items in the  bill that                                                            
were requested by the Dental Society.                                                                                           
Representative  Fate offered to go through the statute  changes.  He                                                            
detailed the changes in version B of the bill.  [Copy on File].                                                                 
In response  to Co-Chair Kelly, Representative  Fate explained  that                                                            
the State  of Alaska had  signed onto the  Central Licensing  Agency                                                            
regional examining  board.  Throughout the United  States, there are                                                            
regional examining  boards and each  of those boards have  different                                                            
Senator Wilken asked if  the legislation would affect the ability of                                                            
smaller communities  from hiring traveling  dentists on a  part-time                                                            
Representative  Fate did  not believe  that the  bill would  address                                                            
that concern.  There are  public health circumstances requiring them                                                            
to have  a license  to practice.   There are  areas that they  could                                                            
practice, however,  it would not be possible without  a waiver for a                                                            
private practitioner.                                                                                                           
Ms. Reardon  added that the process  of obtaining an Alaska  license                                                            
as a dentist is  complete and extensive and that this  bill does not                                                            
address that.   The only  people who are  exempt from the  licensure                                                            
are those that  work for the U.S.  Public Health Service  as federal                                                            
dentists.  She added that  the addition of the Central Regional test                                                            
to the  Western Regional  test would increase  the pool of  dentists                                                            
who can  move into  Alaska without  having to  retake their  boards.                                                            
That will make Alaska a more receptive State.                                                                                   
Representative  Fate  noted that  there  have been  retired  dentist                                                            
returning to  the State to work part-time.   The more dentists  that                                                            
are  licensed in  the State,  the  more likely  that  there will  be                                                            
dentists working on a part time basis.                                                                                          
Senator Wilken  referenced Page 3, Line 22 and 27,  asked what would                                                            
stop an agency from hiring part-time service.                                                                                   
Representative Fate responded  that if the person was a new licensed                                                            
dentist, nothing would stop them from working.                                                                                  
Ms. Reardon  explained  that the bill  would not  make it easier  or                                                            
more difficult  for  people in that  situation.   There are  several                                                            
other  requirements   besides  passing  the  test.    One  of  those                                                            
requirements  is  engaged in  continuous  active  clinical  practice                                                            
averaging  at least  20 hours  a week  for  each of  the five  years                                                            
immediately preceding the application.                                                                                          
Senator Wilken  believed that there  appears to be a very  real need                                                            
for temporary  dentists in the more  remote areas.  He asked  if the                                                            
bill could be held over for further consideration.                                                                              
Senator Olson commented  on the dental needs of the low-income rural                                                            
families.   He stressed the need for  qualified dentists  being sent                                                            
to the village areas.                                                                                                           
Senator  Green  noted  the number  of  doctors  and  dentists  doing                                                            
mission work all  over the world, while Alaska still  is not able to                                                            
get our own needs meet.                                                                                                         
Co-Chair Donley  voiced his appreciation to Representative  Fate for                                                            
sponsoring  the bill.  He  noted his concern  with the fiscal  note.                                                            
He thought  he had  requested that  the agencies  not use  numerical                                                            
abbreviations for other  fund sources and instead list everything in                                                            
layman terms.                                                                                                                   
Ms. Reardon  clarified that  message had not  gotten through  to the                                                            
Department.  She indicated that she could change the language.                                                                  
Senator Leman referenced Section 4.                                                                                             
SFC 01 # 80, Side B 10:12 AM                                                                                                    
Senator Leman commented  that the condition for dental hygienists is                                                            
worse than it is for dentists.                                                                                                  
Representative Fate acknowledged that to be true.                                                                               
Senator Austerman asked  if Representative Fate would favor changing                                                            
"shall" to "may".                                                                                                               
Representative  Fate  replied  that he  had  no objections  to  that                                                            
Senator  Leman  moved  to  adopt Amendment   #1, Page  2,  Line  16,                                                            
deleting "shall" and inserting  "may".  There being no objection, it                                                            
was ADOPTED.                                                                                                                    
Senator  Leman  moved  to  adopt Amendment   #2, Page  6,  Line  24,                                                            
deleting  "relating"  and  inserting  "related".    There  being  no                                                            
objection, it was ADOPTED.                                                                                                      
DR. ROBINSON,  [Testified  via  Teleconference],  offered to  answer                                                            
questions of the Committee.   He commented that the doctors have the                                                            
same concerns  regarding health care  providers and patient  access.                                                            
The  doctors  have been  working  two  years  with the  Division  of                                                            
Medical Assistance and have made progress.  The intent of the bill                                                              
is to make more acceptable standards so that a person that has                                                                  
taken the proper exams could apply for a license and get one.                                                                   
Co-Chair Kelly stated that HB 81 would be HELD in Committee for                                                                 
further consideration.                                                                                                          

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