After nearly a year of working with legislators and stakeholders, Governor John Carney signed An Act to Amend Title 16 and Title 24 of the Delaware Code Relating to Dentistry and Dental Hygiene into law. The bipartisan bill, also known as Senate Bill 277, increases opportunities for Delaware's three Federally Qualified Health Centers and government-operated dental clinics to recruit and retain dentists. The bill updated the Delaware's dental provisional license and replaced it with a community health license to care for the underserved.
Pictured: State Senator Sarah McBride and Chair of the Senate Health Committee, with Nicole Freedman, Government Relations Advisor at Morris James, holding the signed version of SB 277.
Spearheaded by Morris James client, the Mid-Atlantic Association of Community Health Centers, the newly signed legislation passed with unanimous support in both the Delaware Senate and House. Over the years, the state's three FQHCs, Henrietta Johnson Medical Center, La Red Health Center, and Westside Family Healthcare, have faced continued dental staffing shortages and could only provide dental care to 15% of its patients. The legislation will help Delaware's 46,000 health center patients increase access to dental care. With the passage of SB 277, Delaware's dental community health license will be similar to that of other states, making it easier to recruit dentists for MACHC's members.
MACHC celebrated the advocacy win as a crucial step toward oral health access and equity in Delaware. "I am incredibly grateful to the partners that came to the table and the bipartisan coalition of legislators who allowed us to take action in such a big way," said Nora Hoban, Chief Executive Officer of MACHC. "Because of legislative champions like Senator Sarah McBride and Representative Melissa Minor-Brown, FQHCs are empowered to expand access to patients most in need."
The Act also adds FQHC representation on the Delaware Institute for Dental Education and Research Board and creates the Dental Care Access Task Force. The statewide task force will examine and recommend solutions for dental access, licensure, dentist recruitment and retention, and insurance coverage. Morris James congratulates MACHC and appreciates the honor of representing them in Delaware legislative matters.
Pictured from left to right:
Advocates from the Disabilities Community; Nora Hoban, MACHC’s CEO; Nicole Freedman, Government Relations Advisor at Morris James; Maggie Norris-Bent, Chief External Affairs Officer at Westside Family Healthcare; Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, Molly Magarik; Lolita Lopez, Westside Family Healthcare’s CEO; Delaware State Senator, Sarah McBride; Governor John Carney; Dr. Nick Conte, State Dental Director; Dr. Ryan Barnhart, President of Delaware Dental Society; Dr. Yvette Gbemudu, Chief Medical Officer and Family Practitioner at Henrietta Johnson Medical Center; Shay Scott, Henrietta Johnson Medical Center’s CEO; Gail Humes, Founder of atTAcK addiction; Delaney McGonegal, MACHC’s Director of Health Policy and Analytics; Alanna Moziek, Policy Lead at Delaware’s Division of Public Health; Kiki Evinger, Chief Policy Office for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services; Doreen Rushton, Human Resources Director at La Red Health Center. Not in frame is Dr. Christine Stinton, Chief Dental Officer at La Red Health Center.