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Permanent link  New Illinois laws improve access to dental care

07/27/2010

In the last two months, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed three bills into law, two of which will have an impact on access to oral health care in the state, and a third that protects dentists from frivolous lawsuits.

House Bill 3061 allows the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to provide temporary, 10-day permits to out-of-state dentists and dental hygienists who wish to volunteer their services in Illinois. The bill, which was sponsored by Rep. David Miller and Sen. Pamela Althoff and endorsed by Illinois State Dental Society,"will encourage more dentists to treat low-income families at free clinics throughout Illinois," says a press release on the State of Illinois website.

House Bill 5859, which was signed at June's Mission of Mercy event, looks like a boon to clinics and the dentists who volunteer there. Beginning January 1, the state will reimburse clinics for care provided by volunteer dentists. Payments will help clinics cover the cost of equipment and supplies. Under current Illinois law, the state will not reimburse unless the volunteer dentist is enrolled in Medicaid.

Finally, last week Gov. Quinn signed Senate Bill 3025, which will hopefully curtail frivolous lawsuits against dentists. Advanced by ISDS, this law requires that all information gathered by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation during an investigation-including information subpoenaed under the Illinois Dental Practice Act-is kept confidential. Information may still be released to the dental licensing authority of other states or jurisdictions when an official request is made; however, such information may only be used for investigations and disciplinary proceedings related to licensure.

The impetus for this bill was the case of an oral surgeon who was sued, and as a result, multiple subpoenas were made to try and find fault with his practice. By limiting the release of certain information, ISDS hopes this bill will stymy such "fishing" expeditions against dentists in the future. The sponsor of this bill was Rep. John Fritchey.

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