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News & Press: CSPD Bulletin

Executive Director’s Message - Summer 2017

Monday, September 25, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Steven Niethamer
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When the numerous dues statements arrive each year, I’ve always made the choice to participate in organized dentistry. Those dues support the various associations I choose to associate with. In return, those associations support not only our profession but also the populations we serve. I recognize it is not an inconsequential sum of money and an even more significant amount for those who also choose to participate in their specialty association in addition to the tripartite associations. Add in Board and honorary society dues and the total continues to grow.

Let’s take a look at some of the issues that the ADA/AAPD and CDA/CSPD have taken on in 2017.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) – Passed in 2010 and enacted in 2012, the purpose of the ACA was to improve the patient experience, improve the health of populations and reduce per capita costs. While many would state that the ACA has failed those three aims, the numbered of uninsured individuals has decreased from 17.2% to 7.1% in California primarily due to the expansion of Medicaid. Despite having control of the House, Senate and the White House, the Republicans were unable to repeal the ACA largely due to concerns of what would happen to the newly covered recipients. Approximately 90% of the newly covered also receive a subsidy or cost-share. Currently, of children in California are covered by Medi-Cal/Denti-Cal. The proposed reductions or shift to block grants for Medicaid presented tremendous risks/uncertainties and as such were opposed by the ADA, AAPD and CDA. Remember, “…advocating optimal oral health of infants, children and adolescents” is part of the CSPD Mission Statement. That includes those receiving Medicaid benefits.about 30% of all Californians and 50% of children in California are covered by Medi-Cal/Denti-Cal. The proposed reductions or shift to block grants for Medicaid presented tremendous risks/uncertainties and as such were opposed by the ADA, AAPD and CDA. Remember, “…advocating optimal oral health of infants, children and adolescents” is part of the CSPD Mission Statement. That includes those receiving Medicaid benefits.

Dental Assisting Licensure – You may be aware that the Dental Board of California suspended the RDA practical exam in April due to declining pass rates and numerous problems with the current exam. Individuals who had completed all the requirements for licensure and submitted their application prior to July 1 where issued their RDA license.
After July 1, new licenses cannot be issued until new legislation is passed. It was anticipated that the legislation would be passed mid September – mid October. CDA worked diligently with the legislature and AB 1707 (Low) was signed on August 7, 2017. The law went into effect immediately allow the Dental Board to resume issuing RDA licenses. The Dental Board now has until July 1, 2020 to develop a new practical exam.

Delta Dental Lawsuit –  After 3½ years of litigation, CDA, on behalf of Delta Dental Premier Providers, settled a class action suit against Delta Dental related to Delta’s intent to reduce Premier Provider reimbursements. In June, Delta discovered a “miscalculation” which could affect the proposed settlement. A case management hearing is set for late August 2017. This action has saved providers an estimated
half-billion dollars in reimbursement payments. “Big deal,” you say. “I’m not a Premier Provider and Delta no longer offers Premier contracts.” While that is true, a precedent was set when CDA was granted standing to represent members of the class. Without that ruling, members would have been on their own to take on a corporate giant, Delta Dental.

Sedation Legislation –  Following the death of a six year old in the Bay Area, legislation was introduced to increase the safety of administration of deep sedation/general anesthesia to children. The Dental Board held hearings and presented a report with their recommendations to the legislature. Two pieces of legislation were introduced: AB 224 (Thurmond) (aka Caleb’s Law) and SB 501 (Glazer). While the initial focus was on deep sedation/general anesthesia, changes to moderate and minimal sedation are now included. At this time, only SB 501 is proceeding. I won’t go into the details but encourage you to read Dr. Reggiardo’s updates related to these bills. CSPD has worked closely with CDA to assure that proposed changes are evidence based and improve safety without creating additional access to care barriers.

CSPD is also working with CDA on AB 1277 - Dental Waterline Infection Control (minimal standards when the pulp is exposed), SB 379 Kindergarten Oral Health Assessment (requires reporting of collected data), proper utilization of Prop 56 funds and Dental Plan Accountability & Reporting (implementing a loss ration for dental
plans). Nationally, the ADA works with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to improve program funding, is developing in collaboration with the AAPD a toolkit for documentation of Medicaid services and promoting audits being done by like providers.

These and many more issue can only be addressed by organized dentistry. Without members (or even declining membership), organized dentistry will become less effective in supporting our profession, become fractured like medicine and in the worse case scenario cease to exist. “United we stand, divided we fall” comes from Aesop’s tale describing how a lion was only able to take down oxen once they separated. Let’s hope dentistry doesn’t become separated because there are many lions lying in wait to take it down. Tell your tale of why you are a member and encourage those who are not
members to join the herd.

Respectfully submitted,
Andy Soderstrom, DDS
Executive Director, CSPD


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