Bill: Entice Dentists to Underserved Areas

Feb 3, 2015

A Senate Republican on Monday filed a proposal that would create a program to provide financial help to dentists who work in areas of Florida that lack adequate dental care.

The proposal (SB 606), filed by Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, would provide money that could be used for such things as repaying dental-school loans and investing in property and facilities.

Credit U.S. Navy

"The Legislature recognizes that maintaining good oral health is integral to overall health status and that the good health of residents of this state is an important contributing factor in economic development,'' the bill says. "Better health, including better oral health, enables workers to be more productive, reduces the burden of health care costs, and enables children to improve in cognitive development."

The bill would focus on dentists who work in "dental health professional shortage areas" or "medically underserved areas," both of which are federal designations. For example, dentists could qualify if they work at public-health programs in those areas.

Lawmakers will consider the proposal during the legislative session that starts March 3.