Hawaii has passed a law relaxing the rules on who can qualify for a dental license in the state, according to the Pacific Business news, a move critics say opens the state up to unregulated dentists flooding the state and cheating the poor and vulnerable from getting high-quality dental care.
The law is intended to make dental care more accessible to people with disabilities, mental illnesses, or the aging population in underserved rural areas such as the Neighbor Islands, officials tell the news provider.
According to the latest statistics from the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Hawaii has 1,471 licensed dentists, 22 community-service licensed dentists and just 14 temporarily licensed dentists.
The new law, called Act 36, allows dentists, even those not licensed in Hawaii, to apply for a temporary license if they are employed by the state Department of Health to provide dental services to the special needs patients above. The previous law only allowed temporary licenses to those employed by the state or county governments to provide dental services to dispensaries, infirmaries, private schools and welfare centers.
Critics of the measure say the new law will allow out-of-state dentists to bypass the state's licensing requirements.
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