VDA Legislative Session Report

By: Tripp Perrin and Chuck Duvall, VDA Lobbyists

The 2020 General Assembly passed a two-year, $135B budget last Thursday and adjourned Sine Die after going to into overtime for nearly a week. The legislature will next meet on April 22nd, 2020 for the Reconvened or “Veto Session” to take action on amendments offered by the Governor.  

As you know from our frequent updates and phone calls, this session as unprecedented in many ways. With the new world order around the capitol, Virginia took a sharp turn in regards to legislative priorities and new constituencies (organized labor and greenies in particular) enjoying preferred status. A colossal volume of legislation was introduced and managed by new leadership.

Significant pieces of legislation passed this session impacting almost every facet of life and business here in the Commonwealth to include:  an overhaul of transportation policy including a ban on driving while holding hand-held devices (cell phone); investments in railway infrastructure and an increase of the gasoline tax (see below); adoption of a sweeping energy policy promoting greater renewable energy production; decriminalization of simple possession of marijuana; legalization of casino gaming and sports betting; and giving employees greater recourse and protections against workplace discrimination.

Legislation Summary – Virginia Dental Association

Teledentistry Legislation

  • After a ton of hard work by VDA members since last spring, SB122 (Barker) and HB 165 (Hope) have passed the legislature and been signed by the Governor.
  • The core issues addressed in the legislation were very straight-forward and incredibly important as they offer a framework for the future while ensuring patient safety in the short-term:
    • Defines teledentistry in the Commonwealth.
    • Requires a dentist practicing teledentistry to hold an active unrestricted license in VA and places them under the prevue of the VA Board of Dentistry.
    • Hold dentists practicing teledentistry to the same standard of care as those practicing in a brick and mortar setting.
    • Requires a face-to-face establishment of a dentist-patient relationship through a two-way audiovisual or audio telecommunications technology (synchronous communication).
    • Equates statutory treatment of digital scans and digital files to the traditional initial and final impressions and the responsibility of a dentist and delegation of services to dental staff.
    • Provides privacy protection of all digital files & info established by Rules Governing the Practice of Dentistry.

Adult Dental Medicaid

  • The final budget contains significant dollars for DMAS to implement an adult Medicaid benefit for adults -- $33M in year 1 and $93M in year 2.
  • While supporting the policy of this legislation, the VDA made sure we had a seat front and center on designing the benefit. Over the next many months the DMAS Dental Advisory Committee (DAC) will be meeting to discuss the size and scope of the program with active VDA input to ensure the benefit is meaningful.

Balance Billing – Oral Surgeons in ER

  • The long debated balance billing legislation captures two scenarios:  emergencies and out of network surgical or ancillary services provided at an in-network hospital.
    • If an oral surgeon is called into the ER to stitch up a facial laceration or wire shut a broken jaw, they will be governed by rules in the bill so no balance billing, collect the cost share from the patient, get paid by the carrier a commercial reasonable amount.
    • Same is true for an OMS performing non-emergency services at an in-network facility.  No balanced billing, collect the cost share, carrier pays a commercially reasonable amount, negotiate if you don't like and arbitrate if you cannot find common ground.
  • IMPORTANT: this legislation does NOT impact current balance billing and assignment of benefits policies outside of the emergency room setting.

Commending the VDA
A resolution passed that commend the VDA on the occasion of its 150th anniversary.

Fluoride Varnish

  • Legislation adding medical assistants to the list of individuals that can apply fluoride varnish has been signed by the Governor.
  • The goal of this effort supported by the VDA is to have more children treated with fluoride varnish.

Prosthodontics Awareness Week
A resolution passed that designates April 19-25 in 2020 and the final full week in April in each succeeding year, as National Prosthodontics Awareness Week in Virginia.

MOM Funding
The Governor and legislature determined it wise policy to continue funding for the Mission of Mercy project -- $141,280 in both years of the biennium.