POLICY PRIORITIES

Last updated May 24, 2024

Legislative Update: 2024

Virginia's General Assembly concluded its session on March 9th, passing over 2,000 bills, including the state budget. Virginia Health Catalyst (Catalyst) supported several proposals for equitable healthcare access, including oral health. This resource summarizes those proposals and highlights the ones passed by the legislature.

After the session ended Governor Youngkin reviewed every bill the legislature sent him, signing some into law, rejecting (vetoing) some, and suggesting changes on others.

Click here for a comprehensive overview of Catalyst's legislative priorities. Here are some of the legislative priorities that were successful.

Support Workforce Development

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

Budget Amendment: 279 #5c

This will create the Virginia Health Care Career and Technical Training and Education Fund (the Fund), to be administered by the Director of the Department of Workforce Development and Advancement. The Fund may only support the mission of the Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority (VHWDA)

Increase Access
to Dental Services

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

These bills will 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.

Accessible Dental Care for Underserved Communities

Bills: HB 605 (Price)

This bill will increase the number of days dentists have to examine a patient who was seen by a hygienist working under remote supervision from 90 days to 180 days. This will allow 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 settings.

New School of Dentistry Building

Budget Amendment: C-14 #1c

This budget amendment will provide $5.2 million in general funds to plan the construction of a new VCU School of Dentistry building.

Supporting Community Health Workers

Budget Amendment: 278 #1c

This budget amendment will provide $6.4 million in general funds to support CHW positions in Virginia’s local health districts, provided federal funds are not available.

Increase Medicaid Dental Reimbursement

Budget Amendment: 288 #7c

This budget amendment will provide $11.3 million in general funds and $21.3 million in non-general funds to increase Medicaid and FAMIS dental reimbursement rates by three percent. Rates for dental services were increased by 30% in FY 2023.

Funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers

Budget Amendment: 279 #1c

This budget amendment will provide $3 million in general funds to support federally qualified health centers. The additional funding would be used to continue providing comprehensive medical, dental, and mental health services to uninsured Virginians.

Support for Free Clinics

Budget Amendment: 279 #2c

This budget amendment will provide $3 million in general funds to support the operating costs of free clinics that are members of the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. The funding will be used to provide uninsured and underinsured patients with medical, dental, vision, speech, hearing, and behavioral health care, prescription medications, and substance use disorder services.

Funds for Drinking Water

The Governor’s budget includes $13 million in general funds as a state match for additional federal awards under the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Videos from the 2024 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.