September 27, Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) signed into law A.B.
1174. The new law adds teledentristy
to a list of specialty health care services for which face-to-face contact is
not required in order to claim reimbursement from Medi-Cal,
the state’s Medicaid program. The legislation will take effect on January
According to a bill analyses/fiscal summary
of A.B. 1174 by the Senate Appropriations Committee, the intent of the bill is
to expand, statewide, components of a pilot program that has allowed allied dental professionals to provide additional
functions in community settings as part of a
telehealth-enabled dental care team.
pilot program referenced by the committee is the Virtual
Dental Home system, developed almost five years ago by the Pacific Center
for Special Care at the Arthur A.
Dugoni School of Dentistry. The Center partnered with a number of
funding organizations to implement a statewide demonstration project to bring
oral health services to underserved populations using the Virtual Dental Home
These populations range from children in Head Start Centers and elementary
schools to older or disabled adults in residential care settings or nursing
homes throughout California.
addition, the new law also permanently expands the list of procedures that dental
hygienists and certain dental assistants can perform without a dentist being
present onsite. For example, the new law
authorizes “specified registered dental assistants in extended functions,
registered dental hygienists, and registered dental hygienists in alternative
practice to determine which radiographs to perform and to place protective
restorations,” as further detailed in the text of A.B. 1174.
The Virtual Dental Home creates a community-based oral health delivery system
in which people receive preventive and simple therapeutic services in community
settings where they live or receive educational, social or general health
services. It utilizes the latest technology to link practitioners in the
community with dentists at remote office sites.