Legislature(2001 - 2002)
04/10/2001 01:32 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 81-DENTISTS/DENTAL HYGIENISTS & ASSISTANTS CHAIRMAN PHILLIPS announced HB 81 to be up for consideration. MS. BRENDA BALASH, staff to Representative Fate, said the Board of Dental Examiners is due to terminate on June 30, 2001 and Legislative Budget and Audit recommended that it be extended to June 30, 2005. She explained: The regulation and licensing of qualified dentists and hygienists benefits the public safety and welfare. The Board contributes to safeguarding the public interest by insuring competence and integrity of dentists and dental hygienists. Initially, this is why we brought the bill forward. There were also some concerns by the Dental Board of Examiners and the Alaska Dental Society and HB 81 attempts to clear up these issues. It attempts to clear up some duplicate and confusing language, reduce paper work, expand the definition of dentistry, address dental testing equivalency options, board appointments and increase the allowable civil fine penalty that the board can impose. Number 2300 SENATOR LEMAN asked what was the significance of the deletion of the words "or prophylactic" after "preventative". He thought it would be restrictive. MS. BALASH answered that it's duplicate language. MS. PAT DAVIDSON, Legislative Auditor, said they conducted a sunset review of the Board of Dental Examiners and recommended continuation of the Board until 2005. CHAIRMAN PHILLIPS asked what she thought of the rest of the bill. MS. DAVIDSON answered that it hadn't been proposed during the audit, so they didn't have a studied opinion. SENATOR AUSTERMAN asked where language came from on page 2 talking about authorizing inspectors of radiology equipment. MS. BALASH answered the Alaska Dental Society proposed it and the Board supported it. SENATOR LEMAN asked the significance of the last sentence on page 6, which says, "requires a person licensed under AS 08.64 to be licensed under this chapter." MS. CATHERINE REARDON, Director, Occupational Licensing, said her division staffs the Board of Dental Examiners. She said AS 08.64 contains medical licensing statutes, which apply to physicians and other people like physician assistance or intensive care paramedics. Podiatrists are also licensed under this statute. "This dental statute doesn't mean you have to have a dental license. It doesn't say the scopes of practice for an intensive care paramedic have now been expanded to include them." SENATOR LEMAN commented that in the professions he is familiar with, there are overlapping areas and he thought there would be overlapping areas for physicians and dentists. MS. REARDON explained that the definition came from American Dental Association (ADA) model definition of dentistry and was added on to the current definition rather than rewriting the entire definition. TAPE 01-16, SIDE B SENATOR LEMAN asked what is the current limit on the civil fine authority mentioned on page 5. MS. REARDON answered $5,000. The $25,000 maximum would match a bill that increased the amount the medical board can fine. This would do the same thing for the dental board. SENATOR TORGERSON asked if inspection of radiology was recognized in the fiscal note as costing more money. MS. REARDON responded that they didn't indicate that anything in the bill would cost more money. It's a positive fiscal note, because that is the way they are supposed to prepare sunset extensions. There is no additional expenditures in that fiscal note over this year. This was a request of the Dental Society and not the Dental Board, although they like it. SENATOR TORGERSON asked what happens to the money that is collected by the inspector. MS. REARDON explained: In statute right now the department is permitted to set a fee and charge a fee for issuing the inspection seals. We don't do so. We haven't set a fee charging for that, but if we were to set a fee charging for that, then my understanding of this language is that the inspector could collect that and pass it along to the board. The way the current law works for the x-ray equipment registration inspection is that every five years the owner of the dental x-ray equipment, which is usually a dentist, but could be some one other than the dentist, has to have it inspected to make sure it's safe by an inspector. The owner sends in a piece of paper that shows it got inspected and if there was a fee, they'd mail us a fee and we'd mail them the sticker. They'd slap it on their machine. This would allow the inspector who's a private citizen approved by the board to go around and inspect. When he inspects and says it meets standards, he'll slap a sticker on it and if there were any fee, he'd collect it and send it to us. I think the department is unlikely to establish a fee under that circumstance. It's awkward to have the money go through some one else's hands. What if some one says, "I've paid and the inspector says, "No, they didn't." MR. GEORGE SHAFFER, Ketchikan Dentist, clarified that there is a fee established for the dentist to have his radiological equipment inspected. In the past, the state used to do the inspecting through the Division of Radiology and charge us a fee. The change now is that we have a private inspector that's certified by the state that does the testing, but at the moment the seal has to be issued by the board through the department. The change in this language simply is to simplify the process so that the person who does the inspecting can issue the certification without us having to wait until paper work goes to Juneau and then comes back to us. It can be done on-site. The fact is that we do pay a fee straight to the inspector rather than to the state, the way it used to be. MR. SHAFFER also said there was a change in the civil penalties. The Dental Society and the Board has been concerned for a number of years that the fees that are charged for the investigations aren't actually covering the cost to the state of doing the investigations when a license is disciplined. This bill raises fee commensurate with the cost to the state. He said he endorses the bill. SENATOR LEMAN said when the upper limit was changed for physicians, the committee sent along a letter of intent saying that should apply only to the most egregious offenses. MS. REARDON said she remembered the letter of intent, but didn't have it with her. The concern was that they didn't want the Medical Board to take the message that you should take each fine you normally give and double it, but instead, you should leave the continuing education violations low. SENATOR LEMAN asked the sponsor if it was acceptable to increase the upper limit to get to some of the bad offenses, but not minor ones. SENATOR AUSTERMAN asked where the money from the civil fine went. MS. REARDON responded that the division considers it part of their program receipts and, therefore, credit the money to the dental program, just like they credit the costs of the investigation and prosecution to the dental program. She assumed it was part of the general fund since it was state money. She explained that there is a self-sufficiency mandate for each program in statute that they cover their own costs. SENATOR AUSTERMAN asked if currently the fines are not paying for the investigations. MS. REARDON answered that's true. She said one of the reasons for increasing the fine is to have the wrong-doer help offset the investigation more fully. SENATOR AUSTERMAN asked for backup showing costs associated with investigations. MS. REARDON responded that she would get that information and added that the other reason the Dental Board strongly supported increasing the maximum is they felt like larger figures would be better deterrents. REPRESENTATIVE FATE said that the Dental Society brought the issue forward and he didn't object to using language in the letter of intent from the Medical Board regarding raising the fine amount. MS. BETSY WOOLLEY, Fairbanks Dental Assistant, supported HB 81, but has concerns with Section 5. She said the Minnesota State Board of Dentistry last year elected a certified dental assistant as a president of the Board of Dentistry and she is concerned that dental hygienists and assistants are being eliminated to possibly be president of the board. REPRESENTATIVE FATE responded that was the previous version, which was amended out in the House. MR. SHAFFER inserted that he favored a letter of intent to be attached with the change in civil penalties. CHAIRMAN PHILLIPS thanked everyone for their participation and adjourned the meeting at 3:37 p.m.