Learn about the status of legislation introduced on Beacon Hill that would impact you, your dental practice, and the oral health of the Commonwealth.
Increasing Patient Choice Through Assignment of Benefits
An Act Relative to Increasing Patient Choice Through the Assignment of Benefits | H.1181
The Massachusetts Dental Society believes that all Massachusetts residents should have access to quality oral health care, and they should be able to choose the dental provider that’s best for them. To preserve patient choice, An Act Relative to Increasing Patient Choice Through Assignment of Benefits would require all insurance carriers to permit a covered person to direct in writing that reimbursable benefits for covered services be paid directly to the treating dentist of their choice.
Requesting Dental Benefits Transparency
An Act Relative to Medical Loss Ratio Reporting for Dental Benefits Corporations | H.1182
The Massachusetts Dental Society seeks to ensure that dental benefits companies are transparent and accountable. An Act Relative to Medical Loss Ratio Reporting for Dental Benefits Corporations requires dental benefits companies to submit medical loss ratio data to the Department of Insurance (DOI). The legislation also would require carriers to file annual financial reports with DOI, including detailing self-funded lines of business.
Midlevel Dental Professionals and a Comprehensive Approach to Improving Oral Health
An Act to Improve Oral Health for All Massachusetts Residents | H.1308/S.743This legislation aims to increase access to care for underserved populations by creating a new class of midlevel dental professionals called dental therapists.
The legislation includes commonsense requirements to protect patient safety by ensuring appropriate training and supervision of dental therapists. It requires master’s level training of licensed therapists and supervision by licensed dentists. It also requires that dental therapists work under direct supervision of a licensed dentist for the first 2,500 hours or first two years of practice, whichever is longer, and that at least 50 percent of their patients receive coverage through MassHealth or are considered underserved.
Additionally, the legislation would require oral health education for community health workers, as well as a notification by all public schools to students' parents or legal guardians concerning the importance of oral health screenings.
Reforming Dental Licensing Exams
An Act Relative to Dental Licensing Exams | S.1374
This legislation would eliminate the live patient component of dental licensure exams and direct the Board of Registration in Dentistry to approve an examination that does not require the performance of any procedure upon a live patient.
Anesthesia for Children
An Act Relative to Dental Anesthesia | H.1093This legislation would require health care plans to provide coverage for anesthesia and outpatient treatment for dental care for children with disabilities, certain medical conditions, and all children under the age of six.
Tobacco Cessation and Prevention
An Act Providing Medicaid Coverage for Tobacco Cessation | H.1245/S.792This legislation would close loopholes in the MassHealth tobacco cessation benefit and expand access to cessation counseling by allowing trained and approved dentists and behavior health practitioners to provide cessation counseling to patients on MassHealth, as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The MassHealth smoking cessation benefit was a huge success when it was introduced in Fiscal Year 2007, but certain providers, including dentists and behavioral health providers, were not included. Closing the loophole would enable certified professionals in these fields to counsel, and bill for, tobacco cessation for their MassHealth patients.
Healthy Alternatives to Sugary Drinks
An Act to Promote Healthy Alternatives to Sugary Drinks | H.2972/S.1914
This legislation would impose a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages that would be allocated to a new Children’s Health Promotion Fund administered by the Department of Public Health. Programs qualifying for funding include:
- Mass in Motion
- The Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund
- A municipal grant program for the fluoridation of public water supplies
- Funding for the Department of Early Education and Care to support and promote nutrition programs for preschools, nursery schools, and childcare facilities serving low-income communities
- Programs educating the public about the health effects of consuming sugary drinks and promoting the consumption of tap water
- A municipal grant program for the creation and improvement of water fountains
- Improvement of water quality and increasing water access in schools and municipal parks and facilities
- Other evidence-based methods of improving children’s health and wellness