House and Senate panels will take up legislation on Monday that would create “Dental Care Access Accounts” and provide up to $100k over five years to attract dentists to work in areas that lack access to dental care.
The bills — HB 657 and SB 606 — would allow dentists who work at public health programs or who are committed to opening a private practice capable of serving at least 1,200 patients to qualify for the accounts.
Under the bills the Department of Health would establish the applications and the Department of Economic Opportunity would rank the areas in the state with the highest need for dental services. The DOH must develop the program in consultation with the:
- University of Florida College of Dentistry;
- Nova Southeastern University College of Dentistry;
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Dental Medicine;
- Florida Dental Association
The money could be used for repayment of dental school loans, investment in property, facilities or equipment necessary to operate an office and payment of transitional expenses related to moving or opening a dental practice that are approved by the Department of Health.
According to the staff analysis, Florida is one of 11 states that does not have a dental student loan repayment program.
Local government could contribute to the accounts as well as the state but no state award in any given year could exceed three times the local contribution.