New dental licensure fee cap set

The governor has signed a bill that includes an increase in the cap on dental licensure fees, along with cap increases for most other fees, as part of the Dental Board of California's sunset review. 

The proposed cap for initial and biennial renewal fees was part of AB 179 and will increase to $650 as of Jan. 1, 2016, and rise to $800 in 2018. Fees will not increase immediately as the board will still need to go through a 12- to 18-month regulatory process.

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.

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 fee cap increase comes on the heels of a board fee audit, completed last December in preparation for this year's legislative sunset review process, which occurs every four years and allows the Legislature to assess the board's performance and what changes may be needed.

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 has consistently advocated for a clear, evidence-based, transparent process for establishing any new cap or fee increase and will continue that advocacy as the board engages in the regulatory process to increase licensure fees, anticipated to begin sometime next year. 

Providing a spouse with dental care

On another note, AB 179 included language exempting spousal care from the definition of "professional misconduct" for all healing arts professionals. 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.

For more information on licensure fees, visit dbc.ca.gov.

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The first student to complete the licensure by portfolio process at the UCSF School of Dentistry has graduated. Jose Molina, DDS, who is now practicing as an associate dentist in Fresno, chose to obtain his licensure through this process because he felt it was a more “complete assessment” of his competency as a dentist. He also appreciated the fact that he was able to work on his own patients, providing follow-up care as needed.