Health care providers can expect to see major revisions to the Medi-Cal program over the next couple of years as a result of a new initiative by the Department of Health Care Services. Released in late October, the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) proposal will implement “broader delivery system, program and payment reform across the Medi-Cal Program,” according to the proposal summary.
Improvements to the Medi-Cal Dental program continue with new options for dentists who treat Medi-Cal members, including the ability to provide fluoride treatment and fluoride varnish as a benefit once every four months for patients under age 6. The increase in the benefit periodicity underscores the state’s commitment to regular preventive oral health visits for young children in California.
Direct-to-consumer orthodontic patients will gain new protections when CDA-supported Assembly Bill 1519 becomes the law in January 2020. The first of its kind in the nation, the new law will protect patients from DTC orthodontic companies that are putting profits before patients by taking potentially unsafe shortcuts to the accepted standards of care.
California dentists who are willing to relocate, expand or establish a new practice to an area of highest patient need and commit to serving Medi-Cal beneficiaries for at least 10 years can apply in January 2020 to receive up to $300,000 in grant funding through the state’s CalHealthCares program to support related costs.
Marc Bernardo, DMD, MPH, and Michelle Galeon, DMD, are among the first recipients of a new grant funded by Proposition 56, a voter-approved tobacco tax that CDA and other health care organizations sponsored in 2016. The grant program awarded $10 million in debt relief to 38 dentists (up to $300,000 each) in exchange for the dentists maintaining a 30% or more Medi-Cal patient caseload for five years.
The Department of Health Care Service’s new program designed to expand access to care for Medi-Cal patients has awarded $10.5 million to 40 dentists to pay student loan debt. Approximately 1,300 health care providers, including 350 dentists, applied to the CalHealthCares program, which offers up to $300,000 in debt relief in exchange for meeting certain criteria.
As part of the finalized 2019-20 California state budget, the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a continuation of supplemental Medi-Cal provider rates, including significant dollars for dentists serving Medi-Cal patients. An additional $20 million was dedicated to dentists through a recently launched student loan repayment program.
The Dental Board of California is undergoing its sunset review in the state Legislature. In Assembly Bill 1519, authored by the Assembly Business and Professions Committee, the dental board provides a status update to the Legislature and identifies opportunities for improvement. CDA has particular interest in three areas of the dental board’s sunset review bill, including clarifying how an applicant can obtain a new license after their initial license has expired.