The VDA is THE VOICE for organized dentistry in Virginia – Your membership gets results
Years of direct advocacy led by the Virginia Dental Association, a massive in-person Lobby Day effort to educate lawmakers, thousands of messages from VDA member dentists and dental students, and leadership from key legislators on the budget committees have culminated in a budget deal announced today that includes a 30 percent increase in dental Medicaid reimbursement rates.
Starting in the budget that takes effect July 1, there will be more than $116 million dollars in new state and federal funding dedicated to boosting the lagging reimbursement rates for the approximately 1,800 Virginia dentists currently participating in the dental Medicaid program.
“This is a major investment in Virginians’ health that will improve access to care everywhere, but especially in rural communities,” said Senator Todd Pillion, DDS (R-Washington), the only dentist in the Virginia General Assembly. “I encourage my professional colleagues to take advantage of this opportunity to become DMAS providers and have a direct role in bridging the oral health access gap in the Commonwealth. This is essential to achieving better health outcomes for our citizens, building healthier communities, and enhancing our economy. None of this would be possible without the dedication and proactive work of dentists engaging directly with the General Assembly to educate members about the pervasiveness of this issue, or the trusted team of folks who assisted them in securing this win for patients and our profession.”
Low reimbursement rates are not the only challenge making it difficult for Virginia dentists to participate in the Medicaid program and Medicaid is just one of the third-party-payers that have been squeezing dentists here and throughout the country. But this is a major step toward making it possible for dentists to build a sustainable practice that includes seeing more Medicaid patients and increasing access to essential dental care in Virginia.
While the deal has been announced, there are more steps to be taken before the budget is finalized. The full House and Senate will be meeting this week to vote on the budget. After that vote, Governor Youngkin will have seven days to propose amendments or veto provisions. The VDA has been in communication with the Governor’s office to ensure they understand how important this funding is for access to oral healthcare.
Thanks to the hundreds of VDA members and students who met with their legislators, called them, wrote letters, spoke out in the media and fought for this funding, we are close to the finish line. We will be sharing more updates as it continues to move forward.