Proposed 2018-19 state budget increases Proposition 56 funding

The following is a statement from Natasha Lee, DDS, president of the California Dental Association regarding Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2018-19 state budget that was released today:

“The California Dental Association is pleased to learn the governor’s proposed budget includes a 50 percent increase in Proposition 56 funding to $210 million, which will increase access to care for the 14 million Californians who rely on the state’s Denti-Cal program for their oral health care.

We are deeply grateful for this increased commitment to ensuring patient access to dental care in California because we know how critical oral health is to a person’s overall health. This continued commitment to increase access to care will reduce dental-related emergency room visits and improve long-term health outcomes.

California voters approved Proposition 56, a $2 tobacco tax in November 2016 — the first tobacco tax increase in nearly 20 years. Dentists and other health care providers worked to pass Proposition 56 with the goal of improving health outcomes for Californians who face barriers to care. This increase continues to meet that commitment.”

In the final 2017-18 state budget, $140 million in state funds from Proposition 56 was allocated to increase Denti-Cal reimbursements for dental procedures to ensure patient access to care. The proposed 2018-19 budget proposes an allocation of $210 million, an increase of 50 percent.

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Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, adults enrolled in the Denti-Cal program are eligible for an expanded set of dental benefits. The Department of Health Care Services on Nov. 9 issued a special provider bulletin to clarify the dental services that providers may render, bill and be reimbursed for by Denti-Cal in 2018, including scaling and root planing, partial dentures and posterior root canals.

More than 7 million adults enrolled in Denti-Cal, California’s Medicaid dental program, will have a fully restored package of dental benefits in 2018. The adult benefit package was drastically cut in 2009 due to the state budget crisis and was partially restored in May 2014. The restoration of the adult dental benefit services is a result of legislative action taken during the 2017-18 budget process.