The House Committee on Health and Human Services heard testimony Monday from the Kansas Dental Association and KDA member proponents on HB 2611, which would amend the “fifty-percent” rule to the “twenty-percent” rule, concerning the amount of time that an owner dentist would be required to be present in their office.
“This is an ongoing effort to find ways to increase access to care, particularly in rural Kansas,” said KDA Executive Director Kevin Robertson. “General dentists and specialists will be to deliver more care and not be constrained by this law that can at times be onerous.”
The KDA has looked at this law on numerous occasions and recognizes that the purpose for the 50-percent rule is to make the owner dentist responsible for there patients by creating oversight and shared responsibility between the owner dentist and associates or employees of the practice.
“It is good for the owner to oversee the practice, but still be able to move around the state and be in other places,” said Robertson
Dentist oversight of the practice is important. Changing the law to 20% would allow dentists to serve patients in more locations. #ksleg
— Kansas Dental Assoc. (@ksdental) February 17, 2014
HB 2611 would expand dental access without compromising safety by putting licensed dentists in areas of need. The fifty-percent rule has been in place since 1943 in Kansas.
“The ability of a dentist is slightly controlled by the 50% rule and does limit some of the entrepreneurial ability of dentists to provide more access,” said Dr. Brett Roufs of Newton, who testified on behalf of the KDA. “The costs of opening a new practice is high. A new clinic will run upward off $500,000 just for the equipment.”
The bill would ease the restrictions on the dental owner and allow a dental office to be open more and make it easier for a dentist to serve underserved areas.
“The way to improve oral health is by having more dentists in the state of Kansas,” said. Roufs.
Dr. Dan Thomas, a periodontist and Dr. Robert Fry, a orthodontist, who both practice in the Kansas City area, testified from the perspective of a trained specialist.
“This law hinders our ability to move into areas of Kansas that need our services,” said Thomas.
No action was taken on the measure.