State Update

State Policy Updates

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Louisiana S.B. 659 was introduced on April 1 by Sens. Sherri Smith Buffington (R-LA) and Robert Adley (R-LA). The bill requires the Louisiana Student Financial Assistance Commission (LSFAC) to provide for and administer a scholarship program for medical and dental students who meet all of the following eligibility criteria: Are bona fide citizens and residents of the state of Louisiana; Desire to become doctors of medicine or dental surgery; and Are acceptable for enrollment at one of the medical or dental schools of Louisiana State University. New York A02597, called the DREAM Act, failed to pass the Senate on March 17. The bill would have allowed undocumented students in the state to be eligible for state student grant aid programs. The bill also included a provision to create a state-administered scholarship program for undocumented students.

State Policy Updates March 2014

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Idaho H.B. 395 passed the full House on February 11 by a vote of 62-6. The floor sponsor was Minority Leader, John Rusche, M.D. (D-ID). This legislation restores cuts to Medicaid made during the 2011 Legislative Session by H.B. 260. The services being restored relate to preventative dental services for adults with disabilities or special health needs. According to the fiscal note attached to the bill, there will be a $1,418,100 cost to the state General Fund which is included in the Medicaid budget request for FY15. The bill was sent to the Senate for further consideration, and on March 4, the bill passed the full Senate by a vote of 23-8. Pennsylvania On February 19, Gov. Tom Corbett submitted a 1115 waiver application to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reform the state’s Medicaid program and to provide health care to more than 500,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians. With this formal submission, Pennsylvania is seeking federal approval to implement the Healthy Pennsylvania plan. Pennsylvania’s plan includes two critical parts: reforming the current Medicaid program and offering a private coverage option for uninsured Pennsylvanians. The proposed plan, anticipated to begin in January 2015, encourages personal responsibility, provides benefits that match individuals’ health care needs and promotes healthy behaviors according to the governor. Currently, one in six Pennsylvanians receive Medicaid benefits and the costs of the Medicaid program account for 27% of the commonwealth’s entire general fund budget. The waiver application delays until 2016 several controversial changes that would apply to all able bodied Medicaid recipients, such as monthly premium payments and work search requirements. Specifically, individuals with incomes greater than 100% of the federal poverty level will be required to pay a nominal payment toward a monthly premium. In addition, adults, between 21 and 64 years of age, who are able to work and working an average of less than 20 hours per week, will be asked to engage in job training and employment-related activities as part of an integrated approach to improving their health and helping them move out of poverty through employment.

State Policy Updates February 2014

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On January 13, Sen. Benny Shendo, Jr. (D-NM) pre-filed S.B. 76. The bill establishes and regulates the role of dental therapist-hygienist. According to the bill, a dental therapist-hygienist may provide dental therapy-hygiene services in private and public dental and medical offices, public and community medical facilities, federal Indian health service facilities, schools, hospitals and long-term care facilities and other settings as determined by joint committee rules. 

State Policy Updates December 2013

State Policy Updates | Permanent link

Massachusetts S.B. 998 and companion bill H.B. 274 establish an advanced dental hygiene practitioner level of practice. According to the bill text, before performing a procedure or providing a service, an advanced dental hygiene practitioner shall enter into a written collaborative agreement with a local or state government agency or institution, or with a licensed dentist who states that he/she shall be able to provide the appropriate level of communication and consultation with the advanced dental hygiene practitioner to ensure patient health and safety. The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry (Board) shall establish appropriate guidelines for this written collaborative agreement. An advanced dental hygiene practitioner certified by the Board may perform all acts of a public health dental hygienist, as well as the following services and procedures pursuant to the written collaborative management agreement without the supervision or direction of a dentist (this list is not exhaustive): exposing and interpreting radiographs; mechanical polishing; application of topical preventive or prophylactic agents, including fluoride varnishes and pit and fissure sealants; atraumatic restorative therapy; restoration of primary and permanent teeth; placement of temporary crowns; stabilization of reimplanted teeth; extractions of primary teeth; and suture removal. On November 19, the Joint Committee on Public Health heard testimony on S.B. 998. According to committee staff, a vote on the bill will be taken in 2014.

November 2013 State Policy Updates

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Connecticut: In February 2013, Gov. P. Dannel Malloy (D-CT) released a legislative proposal called Next Generation Connecticut aimed at restoring Connecticut’s power as a leader in innovation. The program is directed toward comprehensively expanding the University of Connecticut system, with a $1.5 billion investment in three campuses. 

October 2013 State Policy Updates

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Oregon On June 26, Gov. John Kitzhaber (D-OR) approved S.B. 2. The law establishes the Scholars for a Healthy Oregon Initiative to be administered by the Oregon Health and Science University pursuant to rules adopted by the university. The university was given $2.5 million to administer the initiative. The initiative provides a full scholarship for students pursuing a degree in a health profession. The law requires the university to give preference when awarding these scholarships to prospective health care practitioners who are: (a) from rural heritage, as defined by the university’s admission policy; (b) first generation college students; or (c) individuals from a diverse or underrepresented community. The law also entails a service requirement. Immediately upon the prospective health care practitioner’s completion of the health care education degree, residency or training, the participant must practice as a health care practitioner in a designated service site in Oregon approved by the university for one year longer than the number of years the participant spent in the health care program for which the participant received a scholarship. Vermont On May 26, 2011, Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-VT) signed H. 202 (now called Act 48). Act 48 created the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) to guide transitions in Vermont’s health system. It not only establishes Vermont’s health insurance marketplace in alignment with the Affordable Care Act but goes even further. By 2017, or when federal waivers allow, Vermont intends to launch a new system called Green Mountain Care. This new system will allow all Vermonters to have health coverage through a single system providing universal health care. According to the GMCB, “of every dollar Vermonters spend on any kind of goods or services, 20 cents goes to health care. By comparison, the U.S. as a whole spends 17 cents of each dollar on health care, while other developed nations tend to spend only half that much.” The GMCB is uniquely positioned to provide oversight for major factors influencing health care costs, such as hospital budgets, health insurance rates, benefit decisions and major expenses, rates paid by insurance companies and Medicaid, and plans to ensure Vermont has enough health professionals to serve its residents. However, the governor’s office will ultimately be responsible for planning, developing and implementing the new system.

August 2013 State Policy Updates

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Georgia On July 29, Ralph T. Hudgens, the commissioner of insurance in Georgia, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requesting an emergency 30-day delay of the July 31 deadline for states to review and approve health insurance rate plans submitted by insurance companies. According to staff in Commissioner Hudgens’ Office, to date there has been no response from HHS. Commissioner Hudgens made the emergency request because following his initial rate review he found that health insurance rates would drastically increase. Specifically, the commissioner noted that some residents of Georgia would see a 198% increase in insurance rates. As a result, the commissioner requested the 30-day delay to further analyze the rate increases.      Michigan On July 18, the City of Detroit, Michigan’s state-appointed emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, filed a petition for bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Michigan. On July 30, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes filed a notice of proposed dates and deadlines. The notice proposes an August 19 deadline for all motions arguing against Detroit’s eligibility for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, and sets a trial on that question to begin October 23. For a complete list of documents related to this case, click here.  New York On July 31, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) signed A07866 which expands the scope of practice for registered dental hygienists. Under the new law registered dental hygienists working in facilities licensed under Article 28 of the New York State Public Health Law may work under collaborative agreements with dentists having a formal relationship with the same Article 28 facility. Article 28 facilities are primarily hospitals but also include nursing homes and certain clinics. Under the law, only a dentist who already has a formal relationship, such as hospital privileges, will be allowed to enter into a collaborative practice agreement with a dental hygienist at the same hospital. Additionally, according to the new law, when dental hygiene services are provided pursuant to a collaborative agreement, the dental hygienist must instruct the patient to visit a licensed dentist for a comprehensive examination or treatment. According to the New York State Dental Association (NYSDA), it has been working on passage of legislation for collaborative agreements with dental hygienists since 2008. The law takes effect January 1, 2015.

ADEA AGR Twitter Account August 2013

State Policy Updates | Permanent link

For additional information on issues affecting academic dentistry and dental and craniofacial research in Congress, federal agencies, and state legislatures, please follow ADEA Advocacy and Government Relations on Twitter at ADEAAGR; there is much to “tweet” about.

June 2013 State Policy Updates

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California: On May 24, the California Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee voted (see PDF, page 4) 14-0 to restore dental benefits for 3 million adult Medi-Cal recipients ($131 million in general revenue).

May 2013 State Policy Updates

State Policy Updates | Permanent link

Mississippi: H.B. 776 was signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant (R-MS) March 20. The new law establishes the Mississippi Rural Dentists Scholarship Program and a governing commission to promulgate rules and regulations for participation in the scholarship program.