Governor Gavin Newsom released a state budget proposal on Jan. 10 that uses a projected surplus of $45.7 billion to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, which is plaguing the state and straining the health care system, and to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. climate crisis, tackle homelessness and the cost of living and improve safety on the streets of the community.
The proposed budget includes $217.5 billion in state and federal funds for all health and human services programs in 2022-23 and includes new investments in pandemic response. The government is asking lawmakers to take early action by allocating $1.4 billion to efforts to slow community transmission of the COVID-19 virus and save lives. The funds will accelerate vaccine distribution, expand testing and support hospital staffing.
Details on proposed spending in these five key areas are available in the the governor’s budget statement.
Proposed budget offers good news for dental care providers, access to oral health
Several investments are specific to dentistry, and several Medi-Cal investments demonstrate the governor’s continued commitment to make the program more sustainable and improve access to care.
CDA is working on shortages of dental staff addressed in staff training
The workforce development would receive a one-time investment of $1.7 billion over three years with additional funding for the High Road Training Partnerships. An initiative of the California Workforce Development Board, HRTP offers training and advancement opportunities in careers that include dental care.
The new investment builds on existing funding for initiatives such as:California Smile Crew, which CDA launched in October 2020. These funds are available through grants to educate and expand California’s dental workforce. Funding in 2022-23 will support collaborations and training programs between community organizations, local human resources boards, educational institutions and employers to build partnerships and pathways to healthcare jobs.
The funding will also support healthcare-focused vocational pathways for Anglophone learners to increase language and cultural diversity in healthcare and will expand scholarships and loan reimbursement for multilingual applicants.
The Health Workforce Education and Training Council is charged with researching health workforce shortages and guiding strategies for building a diverse, culturally competent health workforce. CDA is pleased that Dr. Nader Nadershahi, Dean of the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, was appointed to this council by the governor.
CDA will work with policymakers to ensure that the needs of the dental workforce, including staff shortages exacerbated by the increase in ommicron infections, are included in these employment opportunities.
“CDA listens to members and understands that staff shortages are currently at the top of their list of concerns,” said CDA chair Ariane Terlet, DDS. “We are pleased to see that the funding in the budget proposal recognizes the pandemic challenges faced by dentists and other healthcare providers, and CDA will advocate for these new staff training funds to be made available to improve dental practice staffing. ”
Medi-Cal extended to all Californians eligible for income
California is about to become the first state in the US to pass universal health coverage. The budget proposal makes health care coverage available to all Californians who qualify for income through full Medi-Cal benefits for individuals ages 26-49, regardless of immigration status.
The Medi-Cal expansion builds on previous years’ expansions for children, adolescents and older adults and is set to launch as early as January 2024. The Community Fund will pay the annual cost of $2.2 billion.
Additional Medi-Cal Dental rates continue to run
The proposal complements and supports the additional increases for Medi-Cal Dental providers. Those additional rates equate to an increase of at least 40% and, in some cases, bring provider rates to 80% of the average commercial fee. The rates apply to hundreds of dental codes.
Revenues from Proposition 56, the CDA-backed tobacco tax measure voters passed in 2016 polls, continue to decline as tobacco use declines. CDA and other organizations that supported Proposition 56 consider the drop to be good news, as the initiative’s goal was to improve the health of Californians by reducing the negative impact of tobacco use.
Still, the additional fees were made permanent in last year’s budget, bringing much-needed stability to Medi-Cal providers. The budget proposal supports Proposition 56’s additional rates with $176 million in general funds.
Medi-Cal Dental has ‘become a robust advantage with increased provider rates’
dr. Terlet said the Medi-Cal Dental program is very different today than it was ten years ago or even five years ago.
“It’s almost unrecognizable,” Terlet said. “It is no longer a barely functioning program with reduced rates and benefits; there is a robust advantage with increased provider rates, innovative payment models and a growing network of providers. These improvements are a direct result of CDA’s multi-year advocacy campaign. We applaud the state’s commitment to support these improvements, and the CDA will continue to advocate for making Medi-Cal even better for patients and dentists.”
Lab Processed Crowns Available to Adult Beneficiaries of Medi-Cal Dental
Lab-processed crowns for posterior teeth should soon be available to adult Medi-Cal beneficiaries. Currently only stainless steel crowns are covered except in limited circumstances. The new coverage requirement is expected to come through the language of the trailer bill that Medi-Cal updates with evidence-based dental practices consistent with the American Association of Pediatric Dentists and the American Dental Association.
This proposal fills one of the largest remaining coverage gaps in the Medi-Cal Dental program; however, the state must implement appropriate treatment criteria and a sufficient provider fee to make the benefit real. The CDA is trying to understand the details of this proposed benefit and will continue to emphasize the importance of the state paying a sustainable rate that covers the cost of the beneficiary’s care. The budget includes a total of $37 million ($13 million from the Community Fund) to implement the change.
CDA keeps members informed via the newsroom on any changes to dentistry as budget negotiations continue.