The state Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom reached an agreement yesterday on a balanced state budget for 2020-21 fiscal year that preserves critical safety net health care funding in the Medi-Cal dental (Denti-Cal) program.
Now that Gov. Newsom has eased the statewide stay-at-home order and dentists are beginning to return to practice, CDA's Grassroots Advocacy Days have resumed. In the last weeks, dentists from four component dental societies met with their local legislators or legislative staff through Zoom, the videoconferencing platform.
Paul Reggiardo, DDS, executive director of the California Society of Pediatric Dentistry, spoke recently with Miguel Padilla, DMD, one of 38 dentists who received a CalHealthCares student loan repayment in 2019.
Eligible California dentists, dental students, physicians and medical residents can apply beginning Jan. 13 for up to $300,000 in student loan repayment or a practice support grant through the CalHealthCares program. Marc Bernardo, DMD, MPH, one of 38 dentists awarded a CalHealthCares Student Loan Repayment in June 2019, encourages dentists and dental students who are interested in applying to start preparing now.
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.
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.