Update on CDA-sponsored legislation

Three bills sponsored by CDA are moving through the Legislature. The bills focus on requiring dental plans operating in the California Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) to abide, for the first time, by several consumer-focused provisions, supporting volunteer care by retired dentists, and increasing state oversight of mobile and portable dental practices.

AB 18 (Pan; Sacramento) is a CDA-sponsored bill that would require dental plans operating in the Exchange, created pursuant to the Affordable Care Act, to abide, for the first time, by several consumer-focused provisions that currently only apply to medical plans — including a medical loss ratio (MLR). An MLR for dental plans would require a minimum percentage of a dental plan’s gross premium collections to be spent on actual treatment and care. In other words, the bill limits the amount of premium collections that can be applied to the plan’s administration of the benefit (less taxes and fees). If the dental plan fails to achieve the minimum standard, the bill would require each plan to reimburse policyholders. The bill was recently amended to reflect significant movement from the state’s Department of Managed Health Care — the department that must approve all of the plans being offered through the Exchange. As dental benefits for children have become one of the 10 Essential Health Benefits pursuant to the Affordable Care Act, it is critical for oversight of the dental plans that are responsible for the management of that care to reflect this new, elevated role in Californians’ health care purchases. 

AB 836 (Skinner; Berkeley) would reduce barriers for retired dentists to provide volunteer care by reducing their biennial continuing education course requirement from 50 units to 30 units, which must all be clinical in nature. Retired dentists are an underutilized resource for providing care to underserved populations. Many retired dentists are interested in providing volunteer care to the neediest in their communities, but experience barriers, including the amount of continuing education required to maintain an active California dental license. AB 836 addresses this problem for dentists who are no longer actively practicing dentistry but are willing to use their skills to provide limited care to those most in need. 

AB 836 has received unanimous, bipartisan support through all its legislative hearings to date and is scheduled to be heard next by the full Senate. It will then be returned to the Assembly for concurrence in the Senate amendments before being sent to the governor. 

SB 562 (Galgiani; Stockton), also sponsored by CDA, would authorize the Dental Board of California to register and oversee portable dental units in the same manner with which it currently oversees mobile vans. Current law specifically requires operators of mobile vans to register with the board and adhere to minimal standards, but is silent in regard to the growing practice model of portable dentistry in schools and other non-dental office settings. SB 562 would require portable units also to register with the Dental Board, and will give the Dental Board broad authority to establish regulatory standards for continuity of care, availability of records and patient disclosure that would apply to both mobile and portable practices. 

SB 562 has also received unanimous, bipartisan support throughout the process. Like AB 836 (Skinner), SB 562 will need to be returned to the Senate for concurrence in Assembly amendments after its passage off the Assembly floor before it moves to the governor’s desk.

For more information about CDA’s advocacy efforts, visit the “Advocacy“ tab at cda.org.