Legislature(2001 - 2002)
04/20/2001 09:22 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 standards. Senator Wilken asked if the legislation would affect the ability of smaller communities from hiring traveling dentists on a part-time basis. 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 change. 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.