August 2022

Delaware Governor Carney Signed Legislation to Expand Dentist Workforce in FQHCs and State Dental Clinics

August 30, 2022 (Wilmington, DE) – The Mid-Atlantic Association of Community Health Centers (MACHC), in collaboration with Delaware federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and partners, successfully advocated for legislation to expand the dental workforce in FQHCs and state dental clinics.

Passage of An Act to Amend Title 16 and Title 24 of the Delaware Code Relating to Dentistry and Dental Hygiene

This week, Delaware Governor John Carney signed An Act to Amend Title 16 and Title 24 of the Delaware Code Relating to Dentistry and Dental Hygiene into law. The bipartisan bill, also known as Senate Bill 277, increases opportunities for FQHCs and government-operated dental clinics to recruit dentists by updating the existing dental provisional license and replacing it with a community health license to care for the underserved.

Delaware’s 46,000 health center patients face intense barriers to healthcare, especially dental care. Over the years, the state’s three FQHCs, Henrietta Johnson Medical Center, La Red Health Center, and Westside Family Healthcare, have faced continued dental staffing shortages and could only provide dental care to 15% of patients. With the passage of SB 277, Delaware’s dental community health license will be similar to that of other states, making it easier to recruit dentists from other states.

MACHC celebrates the advocacy win as a crucial step toward increasing Delaware's oral health access and equity. “I am incredibly grateful to the partners that came to the table and the bipartisan coalition of legislators who allowed us to take action in such a big way,” said Nora Hoban, Chief Executive Officer of MACHC. “Because of legislative champions like Senator Sarah McBride and Representative Melissa Minor-Brown, FQHCs are empowered to expand access to patients most in need.”

The Act also adds FQHC representation to the Delaware Institute for Dental Education and Research Board and creates the Dental Care Access Task Force. The statewide task force will examine and recommend solutions for dental access, licensure, recruitment and retention, and insurance coverage.

About the Mid-Atlantic Association of Community Health Centers

As the federally designated Primary Care Association for Maryland and Delaware, the Mid-Atlantic Association of Community Health Centers (MACHC) supports 20 federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) that care for more than 385,000 patients annually. These centers care for historically underserved populations and provide care regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. As trusted health care providers, FQHCs are uniquely positioned to reach beyond primary care to foster community growth and healing. Visit machc.com to learn more.

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Charnay Patterson (MACHC Communications Director)

(301) 577-0097

cpatterson@machc.com