We are just past the halfway point of the 2018 Virginia General Assembly and, after what was an uncertain start with a new building and doubt about which party would be in control of the House of Delegates, things have settled into a fairly usual routine – early mornings and late nights with the process moving at a very fast pace in both the House and the Senate. While the pace will slow somewhat after next week, the tension will only increase as a deal on the budget – with or without Medicaid expansion – is sought before the scheduled adjournment of March 10th.
In the meantime, below is a short summary of key legislation for the Virginia Dental Association.
- MILITARY TRAINED DENTISTS. A bill (HB533-Freitas) that requires many Boards including the Board of Dentistry to accept the military training, education, or experience of a service member honorably discharged from active military was AMENDED to put our language back in about such instances. The original bill struck the language below but we convinced the patron to but it back in – so status quo moving forward:
- C. The Board of Dentistry may accept the military training, education, or experience of a service member provided the applicant for licensure (i) has been honorably discharged from active military service in the armed forces of the United States, (ii) has been in continuous clinical practice for four of the six years immediately preceding the application for licensure, (iii) holds a diploma or certificate of a dental program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association, and (iv) has successfully completed all required examinations for licensure. Active patient care in the Dental Corps of the United States armed forces, voluntary practice in a public health clinic, or practice in an intern or residency program may be accepted by the Board to satisfy requirements for licensure.
- BALANCE BILLING. Legislation (HB1584-Byron) designed to prohibit an out-of-network health care provider from charging a covered person who is insured through a health plan an amount for ancillary services that is greater than the allowed amount the carrier is obligated to pay to the covered person DID NOT PASS. We had several conversations with the patron and it was not her intent to ensnare dentists in the legislation and was prepared to take dentists out of it with an amendment we prepared before the legislation was carried over in committee. However, there is going to be a stakeholder group meeting(s) in the off-season to discuss the broader issue of balance billing. We will be part of those discussions and ensure nothing happens to jeopardizes dentists ability to balance bill. A resolution in the Senate (SJ57-Sturtevant) asking JLARC to study the issue of balance billing was NOT PASSED.
- BUDGET ISSUE – MOM FUNDING. The Governor’s introduced budget has $116,280 in each year of the biennium for MOM funding. We have talked to legislators to ensure this stays in the final budget and possibly add some additional monies. The MOM project has gotten frequent praise from both sides of the aisle in recent years.
- BUDGET ISSUE – ADULT DENTAL MEDICAID. There is a budget amendment in both the House and Senate to allow for adult dental Medicaid. These were put in at the request of the Virginia Oral Health Coalition NOT the VDA. Given the limited budget dollars for any new projects these amendments face a very steep climb to make into the final budget.