Washington State Senate Passes Dental Therapy Bill ESHB 1678

On Tuesday, April 11, 2023, the Washington State Senate announced the final vote supporting Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 1678. Sponsored by the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness, the bill passed the House on March 4, 2023, with 53 yeas, 42 nays. The bill proceeded to the Senate where it worked its way through a public hearing, reviews by the Rules Committee, and a final vote resulting in 30 yeas, 19 nays. To view a summary of the bill, including license requirements, the scope of practice, the practice plan contract, and other provisions, click here.

Bill highlights include:

  • Establishes the profession of dental therapy in Washington and sets the requirements for licensure, the scope of practice, and the settings in which dental therapists can practice.
  • Allows a dental therapist to supervise dental hygienists, expanded function dental auxiliaries, and dental assistants.

This bill will help address the workforce crisis and provide access to those who currently lack it. It is a modest step to provide access to most underserved communities. DHATs have broken the cycle of failed dental delivery for tribal members, and access has dramatically increased in those communities. Dental therapists are heavily trained on the allowable procedures. American Indians and Alaska Natives are more likely to experience poor oral health and dental therapists have helped to address this disparity.

The ADTA thanks the individuals and organizations below for testifying on behalf of this vital legislation. 

Representative Marcus Riccelli, Prime Sponsor; Jody Disney, LWVWA; Marcy Bowers, Statewide Poverty Action Network; Dr. Miranda Davis, Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board; Dr. Rachael Hogan, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community - Dental Clinic; Dr. Brian Black, Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe - Dental Clinic; Stephan Blanford, Children's Alliance; Yvonne Jacobs; Amy Roark; Sarah Chagnon, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community - Dental Clinic; Jodi Joyce, Unitycare NW; Andrew Guillen, Seattle Indian Health Board.

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