License fee increase to fund state drug program

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, along with the following information:

“Pursuant to Business and Professions Code Section 208 (SB 809 – DeSaulnier, Chapter 400, Statutes of 2013), you are assessed $6 ANNUALLY which is collected at the time of renewal to cover the operation and maintenance of the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES).  The amount of $12 per renewal cycle is hereby added to the renewal fee.”

CURES is the statewide database, administered by the Department of Justice, that collects information from dispensers of controlled substances for use in carrying out the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. It is intended to be used by law enforcement and by providers to identify fraudulent “doctor-shopping” for prescription drugs, as well as for law enforcement to identify providers who themselves are overprescribing. 

The state’s deficit condition in recent years led to a crippling funding cutback for the CURES program, rendering it all but inoperable except for basic administrative tasks. SB 809 was the culmination of a several-year effort by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) and Attorney General Kamala Harris to identify a dedicated funding source for maintaining and operating CURES. 

The new law calls for the $6 annual licensure fee surcharge to be applied to all licensed professionals who can prescribe drugs, which include physicians, dentists, podiatrists, veterinarians, naturopathic doctors, pharmacists, registered nurses, nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and optometrists. The fee will also be applied to certain drug wholesalers and clinics.

In addition, the law allows, but does not require, insurers, health care service plans and drug manufacturers to make tax-deductible contributions to the CURES fund. Finally, the new law will, by Jan. 1, 2016, require all prescribing providers to apply to the Department of Justice for access to the CURES database. 

“CDA was part of a broad stakeholder group that worked with Senator DeSaulnier and the attorney general’s office as SB 809 moved through the process,” said William L. Marble, DDS, chair of CDA’s Government Affairs Council. “The CURES database is an important part of the state’s efforts to combat prescription drug abuse. Although we advocated for more broad-based funding than what ultimately ended up in the bill, we recognized that it was appropriate for prescribing providers to play a role in making the CURES program effective and sustainable.”

Updated: 12/19/13