Dental loan program would expand access
A lack of access to dental care is a major problem for residents of small cities and rural areas. More than 48 million people in the United States live in areas with shortages of dentists, according to federal data.
In addition, more than 74 million people rely on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program to fund such care — including nearly 4.3 million Floridians. Yet only about one-third of dentists in the U.S. accept public insurance, an American Dental Association survey found.
A major contributor to a lack of access to care is the huge debt that dental school graduates accrue. Hughes said he had about $39,000 in debt when he earned his degree in 1990 — but today the average dental school graduate has more than $242,000 in debt when first entering the profession.
Measures introduced in the Florida Legislature, House Bill 369 and Senate Bill 764, would help repay the loans of dentists who serve Medicaid and other low-income patients in under-served areas. Participating dentists would be eligible for up to $50,000 per year of loan forgiveness for up to five years.
Read more at the Gainesville Sun.