be drawn about the quality of care provided by Medicaid management companies in general.
In response to a question about the relative lack of dental hygienists working in health centers, Weaver replied that many centers are looking for them, but may be challenged by more competitive salaries in the private sector. He added that health centers have been encouraged to link with dental hygiene programs just as they do with residencies in dentistry. Weaver noted that several centers have successfully done this, and it seems to improve recruitment. In response to a question about regulation, Weaver said that dental clinics in federally funded health centers still operate under state practice acts.
Another participant commented that the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) used to have regional dental consultants provide technical assistance to health centers and asked what HRSA is currently doing to assist health centers. Weaver stated HRSA has a variety of resources through its support of the National Oral Health Access Group as well as consultants who are available on an as-needed basis to health centers that request technical assistance. Weaver also noted that HRSA is actively working with state primary care associations to ensure they have core abilities to assist people. He also commented that in the last few years, HRSA has been striving to coordinate technical assistance efforts so that if a health center has a particular question, there will be a best practice as to how to answer that question. Finally, Weaver said that they still try to tap into the resources of employees in regional offices.
One participant asked about the effect of the economic downturn on practice setting (i.e., will dentists favor salaried positions over private practice). Wendling noted that the economic downturn will likely have several effects, including a change in retirement patterns of existing dentists (e.g., they will stay in practice longer) as well as fewer opportunities to work as an employee or independent contractor in private practice. He said, therefore, more opportunities may actually arise in other areas.