Virginia General Assembly

471.jpg

Each year a multitude of policy issues that affect dentistry are considered and debated by the United States Congress and General Assembly of Virginia. These are issues that affect your livelihood in the dental profession as well as the patients that you serve. The Association’s legislative strength is proportional to the number of members involved. Strength lies in numbers! We encourage you to become involved in the Association’s legislative activities on a national and state level to ensure that legislators make decisions that are in the best interest of the profession and dental patients.

2014 Virginia General Assembly

The 2014 Regular Session convened Wednesday, January 8, 2014.

2014 Senate
Senate Member Listing
Senate Committees


2014 House of Delegates
House Member Listing
House Committees

If you are would like to know who your legislators are, you can find out by CLICKING HERE.

Below are summaries of the VDA’s 2014 issues, along with the results:

Incentivize Dentists to Continue Participation in Smiles for Children Dental Medicaid Program

Virginia’s children have benefited enormously from the state’s Smiles for Children dental Medicaid program. Even Uncle Sam agrees: recognizing Smiles for Children as one of the best dental Medicaid programs in the country! Virginia’s dental Medicaid utilization rate was 58% in 2012 compared with 26% in 2005, the year Smiles for Children was launched. Providers have increased 260% since then, too.

Smiles for Children is well known to Virginia legislators as well as Uncle Sam, helping to produce broad bipartisan support this year for identical legislation offered by the Shenandoah Valley’s Senator Emmett Hanger (SB412
) and Henrico Delegate John O’Bannon (HB147). Both bills accomplish the same purpose: authorizing the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) and the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) to establish a plan that will enable dentists and oral and maxillofacial surgeons participating in the dental Medicaid program to deposit a portion of their reimbursed Medicaid payments into tax-deferred VRS accounts.
 
Final Legislative Action: Both bills were well received, without a single negative vote cast against either measure. Both bills contain a delayed effective date of January 1, 2015; both measures will expire on January 1, 2020 unless the program is renewed by the General Assembly. After passage by both the House and Senate, Governor McAuliffe has signed both bills.  

Harness Technology to Improve Children’s Oral Health

With the VDA’s support, Senator Dick Black introduced SB647 , to authorize a teledentistry pilot program for Medicaid-eligible children. As our readers know, teledentistry is the use of information technology and telecommunications for dental care, consultation, education and public awareness. The legislation stipulated that the pilot program protocol be memorialized in a Memorandum of Understanding involving the VDA and an experienced telemedicine vendor. If enacted, the pilot program will be limited to children in school districts where more than 50% of elementary aged children have no recent history of dental care.

Final Legislative Action:
The VDA worked closely with various stakeholders as the bill proceeded through the Senate and House. As the session neared its end, however, SB647 was pulled into the legislature’s ongoing concerns about Medicaid expansion, and the measure was sent to the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission for additional study later this year. This action will give the VDA and other stakeholders the opportunity to further flesh out the specifics and costs of the program before formal consideration in the 2015 General Assembly.

Preserve Dental Clinics Transition Safety Net

In 2012 and 2013, the General Assembly appropriated funds to enable the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to transition its local dental clinics from a treatment model to a preventive care model. The VDA advocated for these appropriations and has worked with the Department and stakeholder groups to facilitate the transition during the past several years.

The budget introduced by Governor McDonnell before his departure in early January contained funds for each year of the biennium to facilitate local dental clinic transitions.
VDA members and VCU dental students attending the Day on the Hill event lobbied legislators to support the Governor’s introduced budget. Further, they asked that legislators insist that those funds specifically earmarked for dental services be used only for these purposes.

Final Legislative Action:
The General Assembly adjourned on March 8 without approving either a budget for the six months ending June 30 or the biennium budget to take effect July 1. This means that the fate of appropriations for transitioning local VDH dental clinics are yet to be finalized. Stay tuned!

Funding for the Missions of Mercy (MOM) Project

Governor McDonnell’s introduced budget included appropriations of $16,280 for FY 2015 and $16,280 for FY 2016 for the Missions of Mercy (MOM) Project. The VDA asked that legislators support these important MOM appropriations.

Final Legislative Action: Like funds for the VDH clinic transitions, appropriations for MOM are yet to be determined. The budget seems to be at an impasse at this point with both sides gearing up for protracted fight over Medicaid, therefore, the fate of this funding is still not confirmed.