PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to Defeat of North Dakota Dental Therapy Licensure Bill

Published February 8, 2017

The North Dakota House on Wednesday defeated a bill (House Bill 1256) that would have allowed mid-level oral health care providers, called dental therapists, to obtain licenses and treat patients. Dentists would have remained responsible for the quality of care their employees provide, and no dentist would have been required to hire dental therapists. Dental therapy is a 95-year-old profession used by more than 50 countries to expand oral care services to under-served patients in rural and low-income regions.

On January 17, 2017, The Heartland Institute and the Texas Public Policy Foundation released a joint Policy Brief titled “The Case for Licensing Dental Therapists in North Dakota.”

The following statements from health care and public policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact New Media Specialist Billy Aouste at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/877-9100.

“By voting to continue North Dakota’s blockade of dental therapists, House lawmakers deprived dentists of their right to hire, and patients of their right to choose, qualified providers who would have lowered oral health care costs and increased access. All the House accomplished by banning dental therapists was blowing up a bridge by which innovative dentists might have reached under-served patients.

“The entrenched special-interest groups of dentists who opposed this measure may now congratulate themselves for robbing each other of a chance to innovate, grow their practices, and treat needy patients.”

Michael Hamilton
Research Fellow, Health Care Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Health Care News
[email protected]

“Had the bill passed, dentists would have maintained total control over staffing and responsibility for the quality of care of their practices.”

Bette Grande
Research Fellow, Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

Ms. Grande represented the 41st District in the North Dakota Legislature from 1996 to 2014.

“Lawmakers in North Dakota chose to look backward, not forward, by rejecting dental therapy as an option for the people of their state. Liberalizing the dental workforce so that more people have access to basic dental care is the wave of the future. It’s a shame that special interests in North Dakota convinced lawmakers to restrict access to affordable dental care for those who most need it.”

John Davidson
Senior Fellow, Texas Public Policy Foundation
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 33-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.