CDA advocacy program has banner year for members

CDA’s advocacy program achieved critical victories on behalf of dentists during the 2014 election and legislative session. Issues ranging from malpractice protection to protecting dental patient premium dollars were addressed through advocacy efforts at the Capitol and across the state.

“This year, dentists and health care providers faced serious threats such as Proposition 46 which we successfully defended against,” said CDA President Walt Weber, DDS. “Despite those threats, we were also able to achieve substantial proactive victories such as AB 1962 and securing a new state dental director position.”

CDA’s advocacy accomplishments in 2014 include:

  • Working with TDIC and more than 600 coalition partners to earn a landslide defeat of Proposition 46, which 67 percent of voters opposed in the November election. The No on 46 campaign was a sophisticated, multifaceted effort that included statewide TV and radio ads, extensive social media and press outreach, and a robust grassroots outreach program. The campaign provided informational materials at no cost, and CDA members played a crucial role in distributing these to patients in their offices and informing colleagues of the measure’s potential impact.
  • The enactment of AB 1962, CDA-sponsored legislation that will bring greater transparency to dental plans in California and make them accountable for how they spend patient premium revenue. It also puts the state on a path to adopt a minimum percentage of premium revenue that dental plans must spend directly on patient care.
  • Securing ongoing funding in the state budget for a state dental director, a position the state has not funded in decades and that will oversee a comprehensive state oral health program. CDA actively engaged the governor’s administration about the importance of hiring a licensed dentist with extensive experience in state oral health programs to organize and execute essential dental public health functions – someone who also has experience in leveraging state resources, securing federal funding and improving the delivery of dental disease prevention to vulnerable Californians. This goal was realized this year when the governor released his 2014-15 budget revisions in April, which called for ongoing funding for a state dental director and an epidemiologist in the Department of Public Health.
  • Defeating proposals that would significantly expand scope of practice for dental hygienists and the authority of the Dental Hygiene Committee of California (DHCC). Early in this year's DHCC sunset review process, the DHCC and the California Dental Hygienists’ Association proposed substantial policy changes, including: reducing oversight of certain dental hygienist duties by moving local anesthesia, nitrous oxide and soft-tissue curettage from direct to general supervision duties; deleting the requirement that registered dental hygienists in alternative practice (RDHAPs) obtain a dentist’s prescription in order to continue providing services to new patients after 18 months; formally removing the committee from the Dental Board of California’s jurisdiction and changing the committee to a board; and eliminating the requirement that any recommendations by the DHCC for scope of practice changes be submitted to the DBC. CDA advocated strongly against these unjustified proposals and the California Legislature rejected these changes, extending the DHCC for another four years without any expansion of the committee’s authority or the hygiene profession’s scope of practice. 
  • Preventing the “clawback” of the Denti-Cal reimbursement rate cut that would have been retroactive to June 2011 and successfully advocated for budget language establishing Denti-Cal performance measures to evaluate utilization, access and availability of dental providers. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and its expanded coverage for millions of children and adults, CDA continues to highlight how California cannot afford to lose any providers willing to serve these patients as they gain much-needed dental coverage. CDA was successful in advocating for budget language that requires the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to establish a list of performance measures to evaluate utilization, access, availability and effectiveness of the Denti-Cal program, which should help demonstrate the impact of low rates.
  • Supporting AB 1174, legislation signed into law that codifies the virtual dental home model, which provides for dentist-directed teams to use telehealth to provide care in public health settings. CDA worked continuously with stakeholders to ensure AB 1174 included important provisions relating to treatment settings, supervision and education, and CDA is pleased with the consensus achieved for expanding the virtual dental home model, which is an effective way to reduce barriers to oral health care.
  • Ensuring that dental coverage “embedded” in medical plans sold through Covered California must be separately monitored by state regulators to ensure the dental component of these plans maintains an adequate network of dental providers able to provide timely access to care.

For more information, visit cda.org/advocacy.

Topics: Advocacy