CDA is taking action to help dentists navigate a rapidly-shifting marketplace and to help sustain the financing and delivery systems in which dentists can most effectively provide quality oral health care to their patients.
The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is implementing cuts for Denti-Cal providers that were originally authorized through the state budget process in 2011. Initially, it was thought that the 10 percent rate cut applied to all services provided on and after Sept. 5, 2013. However, recent clarification by the state explained that it is implementing the cuts on all payment checks cut on Sept. 5 and ongoing, even if the services were provided in previous months.
On Oct. 1, Delta Dental of California issued a formal Answer to the Demand for Arbitration. Delta asserts that it has the right to amend Participating Dentist Agreements based on language in the contracts and its notification to the Department of Managed Health Care indicating that it intends to revise the provider agreements.
The registration deadline for CDA’s Dental Benefits Workshop has been extended to Nov. 15. The workshop is intended to help dentists who want to build their business skills and confidence, as well as improve practice profitability when dealing with dental plans.
CDA and a coalition of health care organizations aiming to stop Medi-Cal rate cuts implemented by the state filed a petition with the Supreme Court on Friday. The Petition for Writ of Certiorari asks the Court to reverse the decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the rate cuts.
The lengthy arbitration process between CDA and Delta Dental has commenced, with the parties entering into discussions about the selection of an arbitrator. Delta is expected to file a formal response to the demand for arbitration on or before Oct. 1.
CDA’s legal action challenges both Delta’s right to make certain amendments to dentists’ individual contracts and reduce Premier fees unilaterally. CDA will request that the arbitrator, once appointed, maintain the status quo until a final ruling is made in the binding arbitration.
California is reaching the final phases of its transition of the Healthy Families Program (HFP) to the Medi-Cal program. Since Jan. 1, 2013, the children getting health and dental coverage through the HFP have been moving to receive their care through the Medi-Cal program. Approximately 850,000 of the 880,000 children have been transitioned to date. Sept. 1 marked the transition of approximately 8,000 children who live in mostly rural California counties.
CDA’s legal action against Delta Dental of California, filed on Aug. 14, has prompted member questions about the next steps in the process. In order to help members understand the legal action, CDA has prepared a FAQ document. CDA will continue to provide regular updates on developments in the case.
For those dentists who want to build their business skills and confidence, as well as improve practice profitability when dealing with dental plans, there is still time to register for CDA’s Dental Benefits Workshop.
After a series of court decisions upholding the legality of the state’s 10 percent reduction to Medi-Cal provider reimbursement rates, the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) has announced that it will begin implementing the cuts for Denti-Cal providers on Sept. 5. The Department’s announcement states that the prospective rate reduction will be phased in by provider type, beginning with dental and medical transportation and ending with pharmacies, physicians and distinct-part nursing facilities on Jan. 9, 2014.
On behalf of its members, the California Dental Association — along with several individual dentist providers — has taken legal action against Delta Dental of California by filing a demand for binding arbitration in response to Delta’s notice dated Aug. 1, informing providers of changes to key provisions in their agreements.
In an ongoing series, CDA is profiling members who have taken different approaches to how they practice in order to counter changes in the profession such as an overall drop in adults seeking dental care, the decline in the economy and real estate market, increased regulatory compliance, reduced reimbursement rates and more. The fourth article in the series features a dentist who is analyzing how to meet the patient demand of a high-volume PPO practice.
The California Medi-Cal Dental Program (Denti-Cal) is informing dentists across the state that it is OK to provide dental services to children on Medi-Cal, including foster children, if they come to their office without a BIC (Medi-Cal) card. In a notice recently sent out in the Denti-Cal Bulletin newsletter, the state's Department of Health Care Services clarifies that in accordance with the California Medi-Cal Dental Program Provider Handbook, no identification verification is required in certain circumstances.
The Dental Benefits Research Task Force recently heard the results of a CDA survey that delved into the patterns of dental consumers. The survey, conducted in May, gathered feedback from California adults. The Task Force, which is identifying strategies and recommendations to enhance the position of providers and patients in the dental benefits marketplace at the request of the 2011 House of Delegates, analyzed several key findings from the survey.
In a four-part series, CDA is profiling members who have taken different approaches to how they practice in order to counter changes in the profession such as an overall drop in adults seeking dental care, the decline in the economy and real estate market, increased regulatory compliance, reduced reimbursement rates and more. The second article in the series features two dentists who practice in San Francisco. In 2008, both dentists decided to end their participation as a contracted provider with dental plans. Five years have passed and both continue to operate on one fee schedule.
While California providers are still waiting to hear from Delta Dental of California about expected fee reductions for its Premier Plan, Missouri dentists received a letter recently from Delta Dental of Missouri that outlined plans in that state to reduce reimbursements to providers who participate in Delta’s Premier and PPO networks. The fee reduction, which went into effect July 1, averages 7 percent. Delta Dental of California has not been forthcoming with its reasons for cutting reimbursement rates, nor has it officially informed California providers about its intentions; however, the reductions are expected to be an average of 8 to 12 percent implemented later this year.
The California Dental Association applauds the governor’s signature of a new state budget plan that includes the restoration of Adult Denti-Cal services.
In a four-part series, CDA is profiling members who have taken different approaches to how they practice in order to counter changes in the profession such as an overall drop in adults seeking dental care, the decline in the economy and real estate market, increased regulatory compliance, reduced reimbursement rates and more. The first article in the series features a dentist who practices in Stockton with a diverse population, including low-income patients. During the last five to 10 years, she has made several changes in her practice to become more efficient.
The effort to restore Adult Denti-Cal benefits is one step closer to reality after the Legislature voted on a new state budget plan. The funding, which is a result of the leadership exhibited by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), still needs the governor’s signature. Steinberg made the restoration of Adult Denti-Cal a top priority after his visit last August to CDA Cares in Sacramento.
Legislation aimed at making sure dental plans put more of their revenues into actual care for patients passed its first legislative hurdle. AB 18, authored by Assemblyman Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and sponsored by CDA, overcame strong objections from dental plans and health plans.
The move to restore adult Denti-Cal benefits is one step closer to reality after the governor and state lawmakers agreed to include funding in a preliminary budget deal. The restoration of benefits, which still needs final budget approval, would begin in May 2014, with a proposed annual cost of $77 million.
Two significant but conflicting developments in the longstanding effort to rebuild the oral health care safety net in California have occurred. In a disappointing move, on the same day that the state Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee endorsed restoring Medi-Cal adult dental benefits, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on May 24 denied a petition filed by CDA and a coalition of health care organizations aiming to stop the state from implementing a 10 percent reduction in Medi-Cal provider reimbursement rates.
CDA is sponsoring legislation to apply key patient protections and market reforms, including a minimum loss ratio on patient premiums, to dental plans participating in California’s new health plan marketplace, the Covered California health benefit exchange. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes many consumer-focused provisions that have already gone into effect, but that only apply to medical plans. Assemblymember Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), who chairs the Assembly Health Committee, has introduced AB 18, sponsored by CDA, that if passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor, would represent the first time these federal patient protections would be applied to dental plans participating in the small group market inside and outside the new health benefit exchange created by ACA.
As part of an effort to simplify providers’ participation in the state’s Medi-Cal Dental Benefits Program (Denti-Cal), CDA, with the cooperation of the State Department of Health Care Services’ Dental Services Department, has developed a guide to working within the program. The guide, entitled “Denti-Cal Provider Guide,” is divided into two main sections: Processing a Denti-Cal Patient Through the Dental Practice; and the Denti-Cal Billing Process.
Ann Milar, CDA dental benefits analyst, weighs in on why all dental offices must make sure they have the correct address on file with their contracted plans. This will ensure that the offices receive necessary credentialing paperwork, tax documents and other written communication from plans in a timely manner and avoid the potential of being unknowingly terminated as a participating provider.
The next wave of the Healthy Families Program transition to the Medi-Cal program is set to occur on April 1. It is important to note that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is requiring the state to again seek approval before they initiate this next phase (Phase 1c). There will be seven counties involved in the transition.
The CDA Dental Benefits Research Task Force has moved into the analysis and problem-solving phase of its efforts to identify strategies to enhance the position of providers and patients in the dental benefits marketplace. Walt Weber, DDS, chair of the task force, said there are a variety of things they are looking at and made it clear the group is ratcheting up its discussions.
The March 2013 issue of the CDA Update features ways CDA Presents is valuable for new dentists. Specifically, six courses that new dentists will benefit from are highlighted. Spotlighting the key role that sterilization volunteers play at CDA Cares clinics, Diane E. Morgan-Arns, who served as the lead for sterilization at the CDA Cares Modesto and Sacramento clinics, and Eve Cuny, director of Environmental Health and Safety at the UOP, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry are interviewed.
If the state gets the approval, Phase 1b of the Healthy Families Program transition will begin on March 1.
The CDA Dental Benefits Research Task Force heard from a dental economics expert with the ADA and learned about Oregon’s Coordinated Care Organizations at its January meeting.
California continues to move toward the Jan. 1, 2014, implementation of national health care reform, and CDA has been working closely with policymakers on issues important to dentistry.
The CDA Dental Benefits Research Task Force heard from group practice and network management experts at its December meeting. The task force, which is identifying strategies to enhance the position of providers and patients in the dental benefits marketplace at the request of the 2011 House of Delegates, heard from Gary Pickard, director of plan relations at Pacific Dental Services; Jeffrey Parker, CEO, and Burt Arthur, CFO of Sarrell Dental Center in Alabama; and Michael Grossman, DDS, former president and CEO of First Dental Health.
California is continuing to move forward with the transition of 875,000 children currently enrolled in the Healthy Families Program (HFP) to the Medi-Cal program, which is expected to begin on Jan. 1. For many months, advocates were pushing for the delay of the transition, but recently, many of those advocates have sensed the inevitability of the transition. The focus of many organizations has turned to ensuring the transition goes smoothly for families and on monitoring access to care as the transition occurs.
As part of its continued efforts to keep members up-to-date on the changing landscape of the dental benefits industry, CDA invited three experts in the field to speak to the 2012 House of Delegates last month.
The CDA Dental Benefits Task Force, which was approved at the 2011 CDA House of Delegates to develop a deeper understanding of the underlying pressures and trends in dental care financing, conducted several information gathering meetings this year. A summary of the task force’s work was presented to the 2012 House of Delegates on Nov. 10.
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