The Federal Trade Commission staff has submitted a comment to the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners expressing support for proposed changes to the North Carolina Administrative Code that could increase the supply of and access to preventive dental services in underserved areas.
In certain facilities in areas that lack access to dental services, the proposed changes would eliminate a regulation requiring public health dental hygienists to work under the direction of a supervising dentist who has conducted an in-person, comprehensive oral examination of the patient. Instead, dentists could provide a written standing order to allow dental hygienists to provide clinical hygiene care. The proposal would also allow dentists who supervise public health dental hygienists to supervise more than two at a time.
The comment states that FTC staff supports the proposed changes because they appear to increase competition, which would benefit North Carolina’s health care consumers. In addition, the comment suggests that the Board consider whether giving individual dentists the choice of providing a written standing order or requiring a comprehensive oral examination is the best way to achieve the Board’s goal of improving access to preventive care in underserved areas, or whether a less restrictive alternative might be equally effective.
Because of the importance of health care competition to the economy and consumer welfare, competition in health care markets has long been a key focus of FTC law enforcement, research,and advocacy activities, according to the comment.
The Commission vote approving the comment to the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners was 5-0. (The staff contact is Karen Goldman, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-2574.)
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