Virginia Oral Health Coalition

VaOHC Legislative Update


Sine Die Report

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HHS Reinforces Importance of Pediatric Dental Benefit
Jt Commission on Health Care Study
Funding for VDH Clinics and Safety Net
Dental Faculty Licensure
Dental Hygienists' Scope of Practice
Health Benefits Exchange
SidebarHHS Reinforces Importance of Pediatric Dental Benefit
On Monday, the US Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule on the Establishment of Exchanges and Qualified Health Plans that includes a clear directive to states on the importance of ensuring access and affordability for families purchasing pediatric dental coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The final rule clarifies that families will have the same level of consumer protections, affordability standards and access to dental coverage whether they purchase that coverage from a stand-alone dental plan or a qualified health plan.


Dear ,


"Sine Die" is the phrase used to indicate the end of the General Assembly's Regular Session. The true meaning is "to adjourn without assigning a day for a futher meeting or hearing."


The term is most certainly inaccurate with this session, as the General Assembly adjourned Regular Session on March 11 and went directly into Special Session to complete work on the budget and election of judges. Legislators are scheduled to gather again on March 21 to try and complete the budget process.  


Out of the 2,876 bills and resolutions that were introduced, the General Assembly passed 1,616 pieces of legislation. The General Assembly will return for Reconvened Session (otherwise known as "Veto Session") on April 18, after the Governor has taken action on all legislation.


Listed below are updates regarding oral health-related legislation.

Joint Commission on Health Care (JCHC) Study of the Fiscal Impact of Untreated Dental Disease
(Barker, SJ 50)

Description: This JCHC study, brought to the patrons by the Coalition, looks at uncompensated dental care in the Emergency Departments as well as at the safety net provider level.
Update: The study passed the Senate unanimously but did not pass in the House. Since our two patrons are members of the JCHC, the House members felt it was more prudent for the study to be requested by the patrons. Kim Snead, Executive Director of the JCHC, has agreed to take on the study and an interim report will be given on this subject in the Fall.

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Restoration of Funding to State-Supported Dental Clinics and Safety Net Providers
(Budget Bills HB 1300; HB 1301)
Description: The Governor proposed closing state-supported dental clinics, eliminating 20 dentists' jobs, and slashing funding for Virginia's safety net providers by 50% in 2014.

In mid-February, the House restored one year of funding with language for an advisory group to work in interim on a comprehensive oral health plan, while the Senate restored both years of funding. Both bodies also restored funding for the health safety net, including the Virginia Health Care Foundation, the Virginia Association of Free Clinics and the Virginia Community Healthcare Association. The Coalition played an integral role in advocating for the restoration of these funds as well as crafting the study language as seen in the Senate.

The only existing budget is the House budget, which was sent to the Senate. The Senate carried over the budget under new procedural rules so that it can be discussed during Special Session. We will continue to keep you updated as budget negotiations progress.

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Dental Faculty Licensure Bill
(O'Bannon, HB 344; McEachin, SB 384)

Description: This legislation revises the temporary "license to teach" that may be granted to a potential faculty member in order to increase the pool of available faculty.
Update: Both of these bills passed unanimously in the House and Senate and have been signed by the Governor. The law will go into effect on July 1, 2012.

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Dental Hygienists' Scope of Practice
(Puckett, SB 146)

Description: This bill expands an earlier pilot program to allow licensed dental hygienists employed by the Department of Health to provide education and preventative dental care under remote supervision.
Update: This bill unanimously passed the Senate and House and was signed by the Governor on March 6. The law will go into effect on July 1, 2012.

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Health Benefits Exchange Bills 
(McClellan, HB 357; Hope, HB 402; Byron, HB 464; McEachin, SB 383; Saslaw, SB 488; Watkins, SB 496; Favola, SB 615)

Description: All of these bills were introduced to implement a Health Benefits Exchange.
Update: After a few hours of testimony, the House tabled all bills dealing with the Exchange. The Senate held four meetings and allowed for hours of testimony on the subject. Ultimately, the Senate has decided to continue the bills until further notice. The Coalition will continue its work to ensure the pediatric dental benefit within the Exchange is affordable, accessible and understandable.

At the Federal level, the US Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) just issued a clear directive to states on the importance of ensuring access and affordability for families purchasing pediatric dental coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Read more in the sidebar above.

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