Mentor Advice ForumCategory: QuestionsWhat do you think about RDHs ability to debride taken away?
Karen asked 4 years ago

Hi. Michigan pa. 161 RDHs have had their ability to debride adults taken away. Only can see underserved kids now. What do u think about that? Thank u

2 Answers
Mary E. Foley, RDH, MPH Staff answered 3 years ago

Respectfully, I think dental hygienists need to look at the big picture and not get bogged down trying to expand scope for any one procedure. There’s too much time spent trying to win small “battles” that get us nowhere.
Hygienists need to work with advocates in their state to:
1)  Expand scope of practice for RDHs  so that all services are well defined, and justified. Look at supply and demand for services across the population and the dental provider spectrum. Is there an unmet need: Can it be demonstrated reliably in the data? Can hygienists somehow meet this unmet demand? Think OUT of the box, eg, in a primary care office?? In a health plan? In a medi or mini clinic??
As part of this effort, supervision should be well defined. Hygienists should respect what they know and can do and what they don’t know and should’t do.
2) Once scope has been determined, payment should be insignificant. If a dentist can bill for a service provided by an RDH, the RDH should be able to bill for it as well. Hygienists need to have advocates and legislators push for this.
3) Payment for services should be based solely on scope of practice.  If it’s legal for an RDH to render a service, the RDH should be entitled to payment for it.
4) A patient’s age, SES, insurance status, and/or ability to pay should have NOTHING to do with eligibility for payment. Dental hygienists need to stop compromising on this. Either the services can be safely and effectively rendered by an RDH or they can’t be. End of story! It’s that straight forward.
5) MEDICAID programs and policy can and should be changed to fully align and support RDH full scope of services to ALL children, youth and adults across government programs.
6) Commercial programs and policy should mirror government programs.
I hope I am making you think! 🙂

Tammy Filipiak, RDH, MS Staff answered 3 years ago

Reach out to the leadership in your state association for clarification. They will likely have any detail on legislative changes.