POLICY PRIORITIES

Last updated February 8, 2024

Virginia Policy Watch

Catalyst's staff and leadership are currently monitoring the policy priorities for the ongoing 2024 legislative session. For a comprehensive overview of Catalyst's 2024 Legislative Priorities, click here.

Expand Access to
Community Health Workers

Bills: HB 594 (Sickles) / SB 615 (Pillion)

Budget Amendment (BA): 288 #68h (Sickles) / 292 #7s (Pillion)

The bills aim to provide long-term access to Community Health Workers through Medicaid reimbursements. Bill HB 594 and BA 288 #68h are not moving forward, while Bill SB 615 and BA 292 #7s are still under consideration.

The amended bill requires a cost estimate of the Medicaid benefit for Community Health Workers, which can be implemented only after separate funding by the General Assembly.

Cover
All Kids

Bills: HB 970 (Tran) / SB 231 (Hashmi)

BA: N/A

These bills would extend comprehensive health care coverage to low-income children regardless of their immigration status. HB 970 failed in the House Appropriations Health & Human Resources Subcommittee. The Senate amended and approved SB 231. The amended bill delays its enactment until January 1, 2026.

Strengthen Virginia’s
Oral Health Workforce

Bills: HB 1499 (Willett) / SB 155 (Head)

BA: 276 #2h-#3h (Hodges), 276 #11h-#12h (Willett) / 276 #2s-#3s (Favola), 276 #5s-#6s (Boysko)

These bills enable the Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority (VHWDA) to carry out several initiatives designed to increase the number of health professionals in the Commonwealth. The House amended and approved HB 1499. The amended bill removes language that would direct the VHWDA to develop an employer-led collective impact program to strengthen the health and health sciences workforce. The Senate amended and approved SB 155. The Senate’s version retains language that would direct the VHWDA to develop an employer-led collective impact program to strengthen the health and health sciences workforce.

Dentist and Dental Hygienist Compact

Bills: HB 225 (Sickles) / SB 22 (Locke)

BA: N/A

These bills authorize Virginia to become a signatory to the Dentist and Dental Hygienist Compact. The Compact increases public access to dental services by permitting eligible licensed dentists and dental hygienists to practice in Compact participating states provided that they are licensed in at least one participating state.

Increase Remote Supervision

Bills: HB 605 (Price)

BA: N/A

This bill increases the number of days dentists have to examine a patient who was seen by a hygienist working under remote supervision from 90 to 180 days, allowing more time for a dentist to integrate a patient first seen under remote supervision into his or her practice. Remote supervision makes oral health care more accessible to underserved populations by allowing dental hygienists to treat patients in safety net and community-based setting.

Policy Webinar

Watch the Policy Webinar from 12/21/2023 that discusses:

  • Adult dental benefit in Medicaid implementation updates
  • Governor Youngkin's proposed 2024 state budget
  • Catalyst's legislative priorities going into the legislative session

Federal Policy Watch

UPDATE: New Medicare Rule Includes Win for Oral Health

In a significant victory for oral health, Medicare has finalized a rule that will expand access to dental services for millions of Americans. This rule adds necessary dental services before or during cancer treatment via chemotherapy, Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell therapy, and antiresorptive therapy to the list of covered services.

This expansion is a crucial step towards addressing the long-standing gap in dental coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. It recognizes the critical link between oral health and overall health, ensuring that cancer patients can receive the comprehensive care they need to improve their chances of survival.

It is a positive development that this rule has been put in place. However, it is crucial to understand that Medicare still does not provide coverage for most routine dental care. Catalyst is committed to advocating for comprehensive dental coverage for all Medicare beneficiaries. Earlier this year, Catalyst staff met with members of the Virginia congressional delegation, including Senator Warner who serves on relevant committees, to discuss this matter further.

For step-by-step instructions on how to enroll as a Medicare provider and how to submit claims visit CMS. The ADA also has a toolkit that includes valuable resources on enrolling and billing. As more details become available, Catalyst will provide Medicare members and providers with information on how to utilize this expansion of services.

For more information and references click here.

UPDATE: Medicaid Dental Benefit

The legislature approved upgrades to the Medicaid dental program to address concerns raised by clinicians and improve care for Medicaid members. These upgrades include:

  • Extending the age limitation for children receiving fluoride varnish from non-dental providers through age five, up from through age three;

 

  • Removing the current limitation on the number of times a dentist can bill CDT Code D9920, the behavioral management code when treating adults with disabilities;

 

  • Providing payment for crowns for patients who received root canal therapy prior to becoming a Medicaid member; and

 

  • Providing reimbursement for pre-treatment evaluations performed by dentists treating patients requiring deep sedation or general anesthesia to match current Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines.

We are committed to ensuring that Virginia’s Medicaid program implements these policy changes without delay. We are happy to share that these improvements will take effect on January 1, 2024.