Florida - Florida Dentists' Day on the Hill
On February 6, the Florida Dental Association (FDA) hosted Dentists' Day on the Hill in Tallahassee, Florida. On this day, 130 dentists, spouses and dental students met with state legislators to lobby for issues relevant to the dental profession. The key pieces of legislation for this session pertained to access to care, especially in rural Florida cities where adequate distribution of dental services remains a problem. Student representatives from all three Florida dental schools (Florida, LECOM and Nova Southeastern) were able to share personal stories about how new student loan repayment legislation would be impactful. The bill (SB 764/HB 369) has been heard in both the Florida Senate and House committees and would allow dental students to receive annual funds for loan repayment in return for working in a recognized dental care shortage area in Florida.
In addition to supporting new bills, the FDA also lobbied against legislation that would create an avenue for the creation of midlevel providers (dental therapists) in the state of Florida. The bill was recently amended to fund a study to explore the need for dental therapists and was temporarily postponed while dentists and dental students were at the capitol for lobby day, allowing dental students to directly make their voices heard. The Florida Dental Association was thrilled to have such a level of support from students-it helped contribute to a very successful lobby day.