Florida Governor Vetoes Grant Program for Dentists in Under-Served Regions

A bill that would have paid dentists to work in under-served areas was vetoed despite unanimous support in the Florida Legislature.

he governor of Florida has vetoed a bill that would have given publicly funded grants to dentists who chose to practice in under-served areas.

Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, said he feared the bill would open the door to grants for other highly paid professionals.

“While I agree with the bill sponsors that maintaining good oral health is integral to the overall health of Florida families, I cannot support a program that does not place appropriate safeguards on taxpayer investments,” Scott said, in his veto letter.

House Bill 139 had received unanimous approval in both houses of the Florida State Legislature and had the support of the Florida Dental Association.

The bill called for grants of between $10,000 and $100,000 for dentists locating in under-served areas. Dentists would have been free to use the money to pay off student loans or to help cover the cost of setting up or relocating their practice.

Scott, who has made job creation the focus of his tenure, also criticized the bill for not requiring dentists to create a certain amount of jobs or serve a certain amount of low-income patients each year.

He also said the law was duplicative since the state already helps provide dental care to low-income Floridians through Medicaid and community health clinics.

However, the bill may become law despite Scott’s veto.

State Rep. Edwin Narain, a Tampa Democrat, said on Twitter that he would welcome a special session to override Scott’s veto. The bill had been passed on the last day of the regular legislative session.

As much as I hate special sessions, I'd gladly go back to Tallahassee to override the veto of HB 139. #dentalcare4kids #ruralareas #flapol

— Ed Narain (@EdNarain) April 15, 2016

It would take a two-thirds majority in both houses of the legislature to override Scott’s veto.

Photo by Gage Skidmore, used by Creative Commons License 2.0.