State Board of Den­tistry should weigh in on pro­posed bill

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - NEWS - By Daryl Bol­ing Daryl Bol­ing is the Demo­cratic can­di­date for state rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Penn­syl­va­nia’s 152nd Dis­trict.

Ea­gle-eyed readers may have no­ticed Repub­li­can state Rep. Thomas Murt’s May 20 opinion piece ti­tled “Mail or­der or­thodon­tics on the rise.” In this col­umn, Rep. Murt out­lined the rea­sons that he be­lieves mail-or­der braces and ath­ome straight­en­ing kits, such as In­visalign, to be (in his words) “a very dan­ger­ous prac­tice that needs to be ad­dressed.” He ends the piece by not­ing that he has in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion to the Gen­eral As­sem­bly which “re­quires pa­tients to see a den­tist or or­tho­don­tist and be cleared for or­thodon­tic treat­ment, whether it be through the mail or through the tra­di­tional in­per­son ap­proach.”

Rep. Murt’s mo­ti­va­tion for writ­ing this piece is worth care­ful re­view. You see, at least since Rep. Murt ap­peared at a meet­ing of the Penn­syl­va­nia Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion’s Po­lit­i­cal Ac­tion Com­mit­tee (PADPAC) in 2012, Rep. Murt has re­ceived sub­stan­tial dona­tions from PADPAC. PADPAC sup­ports Penn­syl­va­nia’s den­tists; out-of-state dis­trib­u­tors of mail-or­der or­thodon­tics are not among its sup­port­ers.

Rep. Murt failed to ac­knowl­edge that the Penn­syl­va­nia State Board of Den­tistry, the of­fi­cial body charged with reg­u­lat­ing den­tistry in Penn­syl­va­nia, has to date is­sued no opinion on th­ese treat­ments. This or­ga­ni­za­tion is com­posed of highly qual­i­fied den­tal pro­fes­sion­als, and its mem­bers have been con­firmed by the ac­tion of the GOP-con­trolled state Se­nate. What makes state leg­is­la­tors more qual­i­fied than the state board on th­ese mat­ters? Rep. Murt could have ad­vo­cated a re­view of this is­sue by the state board to ob­tain its views, and if he be­lieves that fraud or any­thing sim­i­lar has oc­curred, he should seek ac­tion by At­tor­ney Gen­eral Shapiro, whose of­fice has vig­or­ously pur­sued wrong­do­ers.

Fur­ther, in re­sponse to Rep. Murt’s post­ing of his ar­ti­cle on his so­cial me­dia, sev­eral con­sumers of or­thodon­tic ser­vices have posted crit­i­cism of his bill, most no­tably on the grounds that due to the ex­or­bi­tant prices of health care in the United States, sim­ple den­tist vis­its are cost-pro­hib­i­tive — never mind vis­its for spe­cial­ized or­thodon­tia.

Ul­ti­mately, my be­lief is that a leg­is­la­tor’s re­la­tion­ships with po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees should be dis­closed up front. Rep. Murt re­ally should have in­di­cated rel­e­vant dona­tions in his opinion piece to en­sure that his con­stituents could fully as­sess any re­la­tion­ship be­tween po­lit­i­cal ac­tions com­mit­tees and his leg­isla­tive ac­tions.

If elected your state rep­re­sen­ta­tive, I prom­ise to fully dis­close any rel­e­vant po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee dona­tions when ad­vo­cat­ing leg­is­la­tion. I have signed the Penn­syl­va­nia No-Non­sense Pledge (which can be seen at panonon­sense­, which should be a cor­ner­stone of how 21st cen­tury leg­is­la­tors should en­sure that the pub­lic in­ter­est comes be­fore special in­ter­ests.

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