In a Wednesday afternoon hearing of the Senate Finance Committee, Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee Vice Chairwoman Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (District 44 – Baltimore City and Baltimore County) introduced legislation that would establish a state task force in Maryland to study access to dental services for all State residents, identify and analyze areas lacking in dental services, identify barriers to services, and recommend methods to increase services.
“If we understand the access to care issues facing our fellow citizens, we can find a solution,” said Senator Nathan-Pulliam. She followed: “This (legislation) is critical to help us understand the barriers to care and to ensure that all Marylanders receive the best dental care.”
Citing her professional career as a Registered Nurse, Nathan Pulliam mentioned how one of the greatest problems that she noticed among the elderly was a lack of quality dental care. In particular she noted that a lack of dental care impacts nutrition because individuals can’t chew properly. She also referenced quality of life impacts as well relating to elderly individuals who resisted smiling because of a lack of dental care and its subsequent effects.
Joining Senator Nathan-Pulliam in sponsorship of the legislation are eight bi-partisan Senate co-sponsors including Senators Eckardt (District 37 – Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, and Wicomico Counties), Ellis (District 28 – Charles County), Kagan (District 17 – Montgomery County), Kelley (District 10 – Baltimore County), Lam (District 12 – Baltimore and Howard Counties), Patterson (District 26 – Prince George’s County), Simonaire (District 31 – Anne Arundel County), and Young (District 3 – Frederick County).
Senate Bill 431 is cross-filed in the House of Delegates with House Bill 309 and sponsored by Delegate Bonnie Cullison (District 19 – Montgomery County). House Bill 309 was heard before the House Health and Government Operations Committee on February 12th and currently awaits a vote in that committee. Similarly Senate Bill 431 now also awaits a vote in its committee of origin, the Senate Finance Committee. All legislation must successfully pass both the Maryland Senate and the Maryland House of Delegates by Sine Die on Monday, April 8th to be sent to Governor Hogan to be approved or vetoed.