Legislative Update

YOUR PROFESSION

State Financial Assistance for Dental Graduates:

The FDA is supporting legislation sponsored by Senator Bean (SB 764) and Representative Burton (HB 369) that would create dental care access accounts. Funds in these accounts could be used by dentists to repay their student loans if they agree to participate as a Medicaid provider and work in an underserved area, up to $50,000 dollars per year to pay off dental school debt. Eligible dentists who are able to participate in this program could do this for 5 years, with a maximum of 10 dentists per year.

Dental Therapists:

The FDA is opposed to HB 683 by Representative Perez (Miami) to develop another dental professional, the Dental Therapist. The Therapist scope of practice would be limited to 80 procedures, including restorations, extraction of baby teeth, and pulpotomy, to name a few. The expected education for the therapist is 3 years after high school diploma. You can contact the FDA to get information on how to reach Representative Perez; additionally, you may contact your local representatives and voice your opposition to this bill.

Opiod Crisis:
The FDA is monitoring the development of bills regarding the opiod/controlled substance crisis in Florida. HB 21 by Representative Boyd, SB 8 by Senator Benacquisto, and SB 458 by Senator Bean all address the opiod crisis, with differences regarding amounts and who can prescribe the medications.

YOUR PRACTICE

Hygiene:

The Florida Board of Dentistry has changed the supervision levels on hygienist root planing and scaling, and the placement of medicaments in the sulcus. The new level is general supervision, meaning the dentist does not need to be present during the procedure. The FDA was opposed to this change, and gave excellent testimony and evidence against the need for change. Unfortunately, the BOD felt differently.

The BOD recently heard arguments for change to the practice act again for hygienists. The proposal was to allow hygienists to use lasers in conjunction with RPS under general supervision. Following testimony from several dentist regarding the efficacy and the dangers of lasers, the BOD decided to send the proposal back to the the hygiene committee for further evaluation. It is likely not to come up again; however, if it does the FDA will be ready.

Medicare Part D:

On November 16, 2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced proposed changes to Medicare drug plans, including rescinding the requirement that dentists enroll in or validly opt-out of Medicare in order for a Part D drug prescriptions to be covered.

In addition to removing the Part D mandate, CMS said the proposed rule would implement changes that are part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act. These include revisions to the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Benefit regulations, improvements to the CMS customer experience, and addressing program integrity policies.

Getting CMS to remove the Medicare Part D enrollment requirement for dentists has been a key priority of the Association’s advocacy efforts for more than 3, since CMS published a final rule in May 2014 stating that prescribers must be enrolled in or opted-out of Medicare Part B prior in order for their written prescriptions to be covered under Part D.

YOUR PATIENTS

Community Water Fluoridation:

The FDA championed efforts to get $200,000 in the state budget for community water fluoridation. The funds will be housed in the Department of Health to provide financial assistance to local city and county governments for a variety of issues including start-up efforts, maintenance and upgrades to water fluoridation equipment.

Two Coordinators for Donated Dental Services:

Funding was approved in the state’s budget for $170,000 to support the hiring of two full-time coordinators for the Donated Dental Services program administered through Dental Lifeline Network. As a result of the advocacy efforts of the volunteer FDA members who participate in the program, the Legislature took the appropriate steps to support a program that has a significant impact on individuals in the community who would otherwise seek care in the emergency room.