State Legislative Committee Votes to Temporarily Disband State Dental Board
The state Assembly Health Committee voted yesterday to "wipe out" the California Dental Board, which some state lawmakers charge is "uncooperative" and "poorly run," temporarily shifting board duties to the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Los Angeles Times reports. Appointed by the governor, board members are responsible for licensing and disciplining the state's dentists. The vote to approve the bill (SB 26) was seen by some lawmakers as a "fitting punishment" for the board, which critics say has been "slow" to address a legislative mandate to create and distribute a warning sheet about the potential health hazards associated with mercury cavity fillings. The Times reports that the panel and Legislature had "argued ... for years" over how to notify patients about the risk of mercury, as the American Dental Association has said the fillings do not harm patients' "overall health." Critics, however, contend the fillings cause "reproductive and neurological damage." Saying the board is "unresponsive to consumers and the Legislature," state Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont) said that in the "long history of problems" with the board, the mercury debate was "the straw that broke the camel's back." Calling the measure "political bloodletting," Kit Neacy, a periodontist and president of the board, warned that "valuable experience" would be lost by eliminating the board. The bill now moves to the Assembly appropriations committee, which is expected to vote on the legislation today. If the bill to dissolve the board is eventually signed by Gov. Gray Davis (D), the state would appoint and fund a new board next January (Vogel, Los Angeles Times, 6/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.