05/28/2015

Dental board proposal includes new license fee cap


The Dental Board of California is proposing an increase in the cap on dental licensure fees, along with cap increases for most other fees, as part of its sunset review.  

The proposed cap for initial and biennial renewal fees, recently approved by a legislative committee as a part of AB 179 (Dental Board Sunset Review), would increase to $650 as of Jan. 1, 2016, and rise to $800 in 2018. The board raised licensure fees last year for dentists to the current amount, $525, via SB 1416 (Block), and now must set a new cap to prepare for fee increases that will be needed over the next five to 10 years. Renewal licensure fees remained at $385 for nearly two decades before rising enforcement and licensing costs required the recent increases.

Adding to the budget pressures facing the board is the Department of Consumer Affairs’ new online system for licensing, known as BreEZe, which has been under fire because of significant budget overruns and a delayed timeline for launch.

CDA has continued to express concern about the mishandling of the BreEZe project and has strongly urged the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Legislature to work to find a solution to funding and finishing this project that minimizes the impact on licensees, especially in the wake of the significant rise in dental licensure fees that have just occurred.

The board maintains that an increase in the cap will give it the flexibility needed to adjust to changing budget circumstances in the future. The proposed fee cap comes on the heels of a board fee audit, completed this past December in preparation for this year’s legislative sunset review process, which occurs every four years and allows the Legislature to assess what changes the board may need.

The audit showed in detail how much of the board’s budget is spent on each board function — something that CDA strongly advocated for during discussions with the board on recent dental licensure fee increases. The audit revealed that the board spends significantly more on enforcement than for all other functions and predicted the board will run a $4.3 million deficit this fiscal year. The audit also made several recommendations for regaining financial stability, including that the board create a structural budget, set a reserve target and policies on its use, develop value-based, cost-recovery policies, regularly and incrementally update its fees, and repeat this type of analysis every four to five years.

CDA continues to advocate for a clear, evidence-based, transparent process for establishing any new cap or fee increases and that the board’s actions should be in line with the financial analysis completed by the board’s auditor.

Providing a spouse with dental care

On another note, language exempting spousal care from the definition of “professional misconduct” for all healing arts professionals has been incorporated into AB 179. CDA had been urging the addition of statutory language to clarify that dental treatment of a spouse or domestic partner is exempt from the definition of sexual misconduct. The Legislature has provided this type of exemption for physicians and surgeons for more than 20 years. CDA applauds the extension of this exemption.

AB 179 is under further consideration in the state Assembly.



Related Items

The Assembly and Senate Committees on Business and Professions recently held a “sunset review” hearing for a variety of professional licensing boards, including the Dental Board of California. At the hearing, CDA acknowledged the board’s recent fee audit and, given recent increases in licensure renewal fees, urged the board to establish a structurally sound budget and a clear and evidenced-based process for future licensure fee increases.

In preparation for its Sunset Review this year, the Dental Board of California initiated a fee audit in December that examined, in detail, how much of the board's budget is spent on each board function - something that CDA strongly advocated for during discussions with the board on recent dental licensure fee increases. The completed audit revealed that the board spends significantly more on enforcement than for all other functions, predicts the board will run a $4.3 million deficit this fiscal year.

Dental licensure fees are on the rise as the Dental Board of California struggles with rising costs that have led to a significant budget deficit. An increase in initial licensure and biennial renewal fees from $365 to $450 took effect July 1, the current maximum allowed under law, which the Dental Board approved last fall. However, the board still projects a deficit even with the increase to $450. Consequently, the board sponsored SB 1416 (Block) this year, which was signed into law last month and raises the fee to $525 effective Jan. 1, 2015 - the amount the Department of Consumer Affairs has determined the board needs to remain financially solvent.

With the receipt last month of final approval from the state Office of Administrative Law, initial and biennial dental licensure fees will be increasing for the first time since 1998, effective July 1, 2014. A group of ancillary fees that is linked by law to the biennial renewal fee will be increasing as well.


In January, dentists receiving their biennial renewal statements from the Dental Board of California (DBC) will see an increase in the total fee from $365 to $377.

The Dental Board of California has released for public comment its proposed regulations that would raise the initial licensure and biennial renewal fees for dentists from $365 to $450, the maximum currently allowable by state law.  The public has until Sept. 23 to provide written comment (or in-person comment at a public testimony-only hearing to be held on that date in Sacramento).

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