Virtual dental home grant bill passes Assembly

CDA co-sponsored legislation that would provide key funding for the virtual dental home (VDH) model of dental care has passed unanimously on the Assembly floor.

AB 648, authored by Assemblyman Evan Low (D-San Jose), would create a grant program under the direction of the state dental director to expand the VDH model into the state’s areas of greatest need. Public and private funds would be used for training, equipment, technical assistance and other support for VDH implementation. The bill passed in the Assembly Health Committee on a 79-0 vote.

The bill now moves to the Senate.

Through the VDH, as signed into law in 2014 through AB 1174 (Bocanegra), specially trained dental hygienists and assistants collect dental diagnostic records, including X-rays and intraoral photos, from patients in community settings such as schools, Head Start sites and nursing homes. They send that information electronically via a secure Web-based system (called store-and-forward telehealth) to the supervising dentist at a clinic or dental office. The dentist uses that information to establish a diagnosis and create a dental treatment plan for the hygienist or assistant to carry out. The hygienists and assistants provide basic care at the community site and refer patients to dental offices for procedures that require the skills of a dentist.

This legislation will help further provide relief for the oral health crisis in California, which was highlighted by a recent state audit of the Denti-Cal program. The audit found that the Denti-Cal program is failing to provide adequate access to timely care for millions of low-income children and uphold its obligation to ensure an adequate network of dental providers (56 percent of the children enrolled did not see a dentist in 2013). AB 648 will supply 20 additional communities across the state with improved access to oral health care through the VDH model (impacting 20,000 children and adults).

For more information on AB 648, read this article from March.

Related Items

After being signed into law in 2014, the virtual dental home (VDH) model of dental care would receive key funding through a recently introduced piece of legislation. AB 648, co-sponsored by CDA and authored by Assemblyman Evan Low (D-San Jose), would authorize a one-time, $4 million general fund appropriation to establish a VDH grant program. This program would fall under the leadership and direction of the state dental director for the purpose of expanding the VDH into the state’s areas of greatest need.

Dentists interested in expanding the ways in which they provide services to patients outside of their practice can attend a lecture about telehealth-connected teams at CDA Presents The Art and Science of Dentistry April 30-May 2. Led by Paul Glassman, DDS, MBA, the lecture, titled “Expanding Dental Practices Using Telehealth-Connected Teams and Virtual Dental Homes,” will delve into the options dentists will have in the near future to make a greater impact in their communities.