What We're Watching
Last updated October 11, 2021
Federal Policy Watch
Catalyst is watching three main federal infrastructure policy discussions—
Dental in Medicare Part B
Congress is considering adding coverage for dental services as part of Medicare Part B (the Federal insurance program for Americans age 65+ and some individuals with special health care needs). This is a BIG deal. Nearly 1.5 million Virginians are enrolled in Medicare, many of whom face significant cost barriers to access dental care. Like adding a Medicaid dental benefit for adults in the commonwealth, this is a critical next step to ensuring all Virginians have access to comprehensive health care. You can learn more about the process here.
Last week, two committees advanced legislation as part of their reconciliation package instructions that would add a dental benefit to Medicare Part B - this is a huge win! Now is a crucial time for us to show our support.
Find additional resources and information from our friends at Families USA.
American Jobs Plan - Water Infrastructure
Allocating significant funds to infrastructure is much needed to support and improve the nation’s crumbling water infrastructure. As water access and quality continue to be a leading concern in this country, Catalyst is watching to anticipate the impact this will have on the commonwealth and the work of the Water Equity Taskforce. The final bill was released on Aug 1. The Senate passed the $1 trillion bipartisan bill on August 10th and now it is with the House of Representatives. Speaker Pelosi struck an agreement with House Democrats that ensures the bill will be voted on by September 27.
- Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, based on the traditional state revolving fund formula, Virginia will expect to receive $738 million over five years to improve water infrastructure across the state and ensure that clean, safe drinking water is a right in all communities.
- Learn more about how the plan will impact Virginia here.
Medicaid Dental Benefit Act
A federal bill is being introduced in Congress that would make adult dental services mandatory coverage for all adults on Medicaid (HR4439). Currently, each state makes this determination. Virginia passed an adult dental benefit in 2020, but is one of only 20 states with extensive dental benefit coverage for adults; 30 states have little to no coverage for adults on Medicaid. This new bill is not tied to the ongoing budget reconciliation package.
Prepping for 2022 Legislative Session
Virginia’s regularly scheduled legislative session is January 12, 2022 – March 12, 2022. This is considered a long session (even years session is 60 days, odd years session is 30 days) and will in part focus on a new state budget. Catalyst is refining our priorities for this session, but are planning on bringing forward these changes—
Increase Reimbursement Rates
Catalyst is partnering with the Virginia Dental Association to advocate for increased Medicaid reimbursement rates for dentists to more closely reflect private insurance reimbursement rates. The Medicaid dental program has not raised rates in over sixteen years.
Support Dental Hygienists in Remote Settings
Catalyst is partnering with the Virginia Dental Association and Virginia Dental Hygienists’ Association to draft new code language that clarifies the role of remote supervision dental hygienists. The updated language will clarify questions about teledentistry, liability, and follow-up appointments. This new language will be submitted to be codified.