Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, is sponsoring a bill that would allow tribal members better access to dental care. (TRT: 0:63) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


A bill heard on Monday would expand access to dental care for tribal members through the creation of dental health aide therapists. This is the 11th time that Sen. McCoy of Tulalip has sponsored similar legislation, the second time before the Senate Health Care Committee.

Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip: (TRT: 0:20) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “We are in dire need of access to the tribes throughout Washington state. We took a hard look at the Alaska model, and the Alaska model is working, and it’s has been taken to Minnesota and it’s working. So, I find it difficult to understand why there is so much opposition for Washington state over the years.”

Senate Bill 5159, follows the successful Alaska model, which has been very effective in training dental therapists who can provide access to dental care until a patient may visit a dentist for more serious treatment. Under McCoy’s plan, only federally recognized Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations would be authorized train and employ a dental health aide therapist.

At the state capitol in Olympia, Nicole Vukonich.