Federal Trade Commission staff submitted a comment regarding proposed legislation that would broaden the types of settings under which Georgia dental hygienists are allowed to provide preventive care without the direct supervision of a dentist. The comments are in response to a request from Georgia State Senator Valencia Seay.
The comment, submitted by staff of the FTC’s Office of Policy Planning, Bureau of Competition and Bureau of Economics, says that that Georgia House Bill 684 “would likely enhance competition in the provision of preventive dental care services and thereby benefit Georgia consumers, particularly underserved populations with limited access to preventive care.”
Under current Georgia law, dental hygienists generally must work under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist, which means a dentist must be physically present at the location where the services are being provided. As a result, dental hygienists may be unable to provide care in locations, often rural or underserved areas, where dentists are scarce or unavailable. Georgia law does allow limited exceptions to the direct supervision requirement when hygienists provide preventive services in certain public health settings, but HB 684 would broaden the settings where direct supervision is not required, aligning Georgia’s supervision requirement with those in most other states. The FTC staff comment concludes that fewer restrictions likely would enhance competition in the provision of preventive dental care services and expand access to care, especially for Georgia’s most vulnerable populations.
The Commission vote to issue the staff comment was 4-0. It was sent to Georgia State Senator Valencia Seay on January 29, 2016. (FTC File No. V160004; the staff contact is Karen A. Goldman, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-2574).
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