CONTACT: Patrick McIlheran, director of policy: email@example.com or (414) 393-7077
Jan. 16, 2024 — Wisconsin ranks near the bottom among states in access to dental care for the poor — but that’s about to start changing, thanks to the Legislature’s passage Tuesday of a bill to permit dental therapists in our state.
“This is a long-awaited, great day for potentially hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites, including a lot of poor kids, who suffer from toothaches and cavities and poor health,” said Badger Institute President Mike Nichols. “Kudos to our legislators on both sides of the aisle who proved they can work together on a fundamental issue that will make a whole lot of lives better. We hope Gov. Evers signs this as soon as possible.”
Dental therapists are mid-level providers who perform preventive and restorative procedures — cavity repairs, extractions, so forth — filling a gap between dentists and hygienists, especially in the 58 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties with too few dental providers per capita. You can find an explanation of dental therapy here, in our 2022 book of policy recommendations, “Mandate for Madison.”
You can find an explanation of why the just-passed reform is necessary here, in our testimony before the Legislature.
You can find out how dental care can be a struggle even for people in suburban Milwaukee here — and learn here how the reform harnesses the free market to directly help about 345,000 underserved Wisconsin children without any cost to taxpayers.
Key to the reform has been state Sen. Mary Felzkowski of Tomahawk, who spent years advocating for dental therapy. The bill that she and Rep. Jon Plumer of Lodi sponsored will make a difference for millions of Wisconsinites by bringing down the cost of smiles in our state.
The Badger Institute is Wisconsin’s most influential free-market public policy research organization.
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