Lobbying efforts by members of the Maryland State Dental Association (MSDA) have scuttled S.B. 887, a measure designed to make it legal for people without Maryland dental licenses to own dental practices.
The bill was voted down after the Maryland senate’s Education, Health and Environmental Affairs (EHEA) Committee heard opposition from more than 70 dentists, board members and support personnel.
Bill sponsor and EHEA Committee Chair Sen. Joan Conway recently withdrew her support for the legislation, announcing that a summer study and hearing would investigate and explain issues for and against non-dentist ownership to the committee.
At issue with the bill are potential ethical concerns that could arise if medical decisions are pressured by financial concerns. Such situations are discouraged or avoided when licensed dentists own a practice directly or own a company that operates such practices.
Under existing statutes, corporations owned by licensed dentists are still allowed to own practices, with an exception granted for outsourcing claims filing and other administrative tasks to outside firms.
The MSDA also opposed S.B. 810, a bill that could have weakened six of the state’s dental hygiene programs by forcing them to accept non-accredited courses.
Otherwise, the legislative session saw mixed results. Two bills the MSDA supported were defeated -- one extending postpartum dental care under Medicaid and another continuing the operation of charitable nonprofits owned by non-dentists.
Finally, an amendment to a bill supported by the MSDA was approved, which will allow recommended courses along with mandatory courses in cultural competency to count for continuing education credit.