Legislative deal prevents loss of dental funding

The state Legislature and governor recently agreed to a deal, supported by CDA, that will preserve $1.3 billion in federal funding for Medi-Cal. The agreement reforms the state's managed care organization (MCO) tax to comply with federal requirements that the tax apply to all managed care health plans, not just those that serve Medi-Cal patients, in order to preserve the federal matching money the tax brings to the state.

Failure to reach an agreement by July 1 would have left a major budget hole in an already underfunded Medi-Cal/Denti-Cal program. The deal, which needed two-thirds support, was approved 28-11 in the Senate and 61-16 in the Assembly before receiving the governor's signature. The votes settle an issue that has dominated the health care budget discussions for more than a year.

The agreement ultimately hinged on a tax swap with offsets for health plans on premium and corporate taxes, with no net loss for the health insurance industry as a whole. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid must still approve of the deal.  

Sugar-sweetened beverage fee

Protecting the Medi-Cal/Denti-Cal budget will help further the effort to improve the oral health of Californians, as will another bill CDA is supporting – AB 2782 by Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) and co-authored by Jim Wood, DDS, (D-Healdsburg). CDA is part of the Coalition for a Healthy California that supports the bill, which would enact a 2-cent-per-ounce, sugar-sweetened beverage fee. Other members of the coalition include the American Heart Association, California Primary Care Association, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, California Black Health Network and the Public Health Institute.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are the single largest source of added sugar in the American diet and a primary cause of dental decay — the most common chronic childhood disease, experienced by more than two-thirds of children in California. What's more, soda is the most consumed beverage in the U.S. and more than 60 percent of teenagers drink at least one sugar-sweetened beverage daily. The frequency of consumption, along with the combination of high levels of sugar and acid, make these beverages exceptionally damaging to teeth.

The 2-cent-per-ounce, sugar-sweetened beverage fee would generate more than $2 billion in revenue that will provide more nutrition and physical education in schools; better access to clean drinking water; healthier food options in at-risk communities; more preventive dental services; and other programs that will help combat the epidemics of dental disease, diabetes and heart disease.

For more information on AB 2782, visit coalitionforahealthycalifornia.org.

CDA will keep members informed on both of these efforts in the CDA Update, cda.org and e-newsletters. For additional information, contact CDA Public Affairs Manager Todd Roberson at todd.roberson@cda.org or 916.554.4982.