Brighter Smiles for New Mexico Campaign
The New Mexico Dental Association (NMDA) is launching its Brighter Smiles for New Mexico public education campaign and accompanying legislative package to inform citizens and elected officials about critical dental health issues that affect nearly every New Mexican. The campaign is designed to educate the public and elected officials about the following dental health issues:
- The importance of children visiting the dentist prior to starting school.
- Expanding dental educational opportunities for New Mexicans to ultimately improve access to care.
- Removal of the state’s gross receipt tax (GRT) for dental and medical services.
- Simplifying dental insurance benefits for all New Mexicans. and
- Investing in Medicaid dental benefit rates for patients.
Five Points to a Brighter Smile
The core component of the Brighter Smiles for New Mexico campaign is its five-point legislative package. The legislation will be promoted in the state and will feature the following components.
- Legislation to ensure every child visits a dentist before they start school to promote the importance of dental health care. A waiver option will be provided for parents who want to be excused from the program.
- Promote dental education and greater access by supporting pre-dental societies within New Mexico universities, increasing Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) resources for dental students, advocating and supporting dental hygiene educational programs and promoting creative incentives to recruit and retain dentists in underserved areas. Expand funding for both WICHE and non-WICHE affiliated schools to expand the program to increase the number of slots available for prospective dental school students from New Mexico with the goal of having the graduates practice in under-populated areas in the state.The NMDA is currently exploring the following options regarding increasing dental care in rural areas in the state:
- The possibility of requiring an allotted number of WICHE recipients to practice in rural areas in New Mexico.
- Encourage dental schools to recruit dental students from rural areas in New Mexico.
- Provide incentives for dental residents from the University of New Mexico to provide dental services to patients in rural areas in New Mexico.
- Develop a program to encourage dentists to fully utilize dental hygienists under current laws.
- Create a loan for dentists to buy or establish practices in rural areas with a portion of the loan cancelled each year they practice in the area. and
- Research and encourage pilot projects for dental schools to streamline dental school education programs to recognize dental hygienists’ education.
- Removal of state’s gross receipts tax (GRT) on dental/medical services to increase access to affordable dental/medical care and eliminate barriers to quality care for the underprivileged.
- A patient bill of rights that includes simplifying dental insurance benefits for all New Mexicans by:
- Removing restraints on insured individuals that dictate the dentist from whom they may obtain covered services
- Insisting the provider networks include dentists that are in reasonable proximity to the insured
- Assuring individuals that they will receive the full allowable benefit regardless of the dentist they choose
- Providing for disclosure and understandable communication of plan limitations and exclusions and
- Standardizing coordination of benefits determinations.
- Invest in preventive dental care through increased Medicaid reimbursement for dentists so they can identify, treat and even prevent dental problems for Medicaid patients before they occur, ultimately saving money and increasing access to health care.
Contact your local legislators to support the Brighter Smiles for New Mexico Campaign.