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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 4, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 05
LGBTQ Allyship works on dental care bill
Section One
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LGBTQ Allyship works on dental care bill

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

While the community's attention has been focused on the progress of the Marriage Equality Act, one group of LGBT activists has been focusing on making health care more affordable for state residents.

LGBTQ Allyship has been working with a number of other organizations, including Washington Community Action Network (WCAN), Seattle Counseling Services, and YouthCare to push SB 6126 and its companion bill HB 2226.

'This bill would allow dental hygiene practitioners and dental practitioners to perform basic dental services and preventative services at lower costs,' Allyship executive director Debbie Carlsen explained.

'The bill would also provide living-wage jobs to marginalized individuals who might not have the funds to become a dentist - seven years of school versus two years of school.'

The Senate version, SB 6126, is sponsored by Sen. David Frockt (D-46). The House companion bill, HB 2226, is sponsored by Eileen Cody (D-34).

According to Carlsen, the dental care bill is so important that 'Allyship's two main goals are to support raising revenue, and this Dental Bill.'

Last year, the legislature revoked dental coverage for Medicaid recipients in an attempt to cope with the state's revenue shortfall, making dental care even less accessible for uninsured and low-income residents of the state.

Allyship saw a need to address this problem, Carlsen said, and began by organizing meetings between community organizations and key legislators, including Senate Ways and Means chair Ed Murray (D-43).

On January 3, Allyship and WCAN met with Murray and House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-43).

'Allyship advocated for raising revenue rather than cutting the Basic Health Plan, Disability Lifeline, and mental health and chemical dependency programs,' Carlsen told SGN.

'On January 4th we had an exclusive meeting with Senator Murray to discuss the effects of health care budget cuts to the LGBTQ community,' Carlsen continued.

The result was that Murray agreed to co-sponsor the dental care bill.

'Dental emergencies are the No. 1 medical reason why people frequent the emergency room,' Carlsen noted. 'Four hundred thousand Washington residents went to the emergency room for dental-related emergencies in 2011.'

Access to dental care is even more problematic for Transgender people and homeless youth, up to 40% of them LGBT youth, Carlsen said.

Allyship requests that members of the community thank Sen. Murray for supporting SB 6126. He can be reached via email at edward.murray@leg.wa.gov.

Carlsen said she is also looking for individuals in the LGBT community who currently lack dental care to share their stories with other community members and legislators. Allyship can be reached via email at allyship@yahoo.com.

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