Florida Governor Rick Scott vetoed a bill that would widen access to oral care for poor and rural residents.
Despite being unanimously passed by both chambers of the state legislature, Florida Governor Rick Scott vetoed a bill that would help poor and rural residents gain better access to oral care.
The bill, which was filed by Representative Travis Cummings, would create grants aimed at dentists in areas that are underserved or have a shortage of dentists. The grants would range from $10,000 to $100,000 and would be awarded and monitored by the Department of Health.
Governor Scott claimed that he was in favor of “maintaining good oral health” because it “is integral to the overall health of Florida families.” Despite these claims, he expressed concern about a lack of safeguards present in the bill, saying that the bill “does not require dentists who receive taxpayer dollars to hire a specific number of new employees or to serve a certain number of low-income patients each year.”
These concerns are understandable, but lawmakers were hoping that the bill would pass because bills of this caliber are often not agreed upon and shut down. After the bill made it through both chambers, there was hope that finally a bill that would aid poor and rural residents with their health would actually come to fruition.
Dentists were also disappointed by the veto and said that the bill “would have provided significant support for promoting dental care, economic development and job growth in underserved areas of Florida.”
The FDA’s Director of Governmental Affairs, Joe Ann Hart, explained what the veto means for residents in need of these dental services:
“The challenges of accessing routine dental care have critically impacted the health and success of Florida communities, especially in rural areas. The results are repeated visits to the emergency room for preventable dental problems, missed days of school due to toothaches, and lower GPAs and graduation rates.”
The veto has proven to be a setback for widening access to dental care in communities that need it, but Hart assured residents that he would continue to advocate for statewide policies that would improve oral care for Floridians.
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