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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 | HD.4663

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.

Preventing Cost Shifting Within the Delivery of Dental Care

An Act Relative to Financial Services Contracts for Dental Benefits Corporations | H.1005/S.545

This legislation would prohibit carriers from contractually setting fees for services for which the carriers do not provide payment, except for services for which the carrier would have provided payment had the patient not reached a contractual limitation (i.e., frequency limitations, annual maximums, etc.).

Ensuring Dental Plan Transparency

An Act Relative to Transparency of Dental Benefits Corporations | H.3557/S.544

This legislation would give the Division of Insurance (DOI) oversight of dental benefit plan premiums and fee reimbursements. All rate changes would be subject to the review and approval of the DOI.

The legislation requires dental benefits companies to submit medical loss ratio data to the DOI.

The legislation also prohibits carriers from granting third-party access to a provider network contract or a provider’s services and contractual discounts pursuant to a provider contract.

Midlevel Dental Professionals and a Comprehensive Approach to Improving Oral Health 

An Act to Improve Oral Health for All Massachusetts Residents | H.1916/S.1215

This 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 | H.4269

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 Anesthesia Coverage for Children Hospitalized for Dental Treatment | H.1030/S.618

This 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.

Restoring MassHealth Adult Dental Benefits

An Act Relative to the Restoration of MassHealth Adult Dental Benefits | H.1917/S.1212

This legislation would require the Division of Medical Assistance to cover all dental services that were included in the state plan or demonstration program in effect on January 1, 2002.

Tobacco Cessation and Prevention

An Act to Provide Medicaid Coverage for Tobacco Cessation | H.1129/S.704

This 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.

Other tobacco legislation includes An Act Regulating Flavored Tobacco Products, which would ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in Massachusetts, and An Act Protecting Youth from Nicotine Addiction.

Healthy Alternatives to Sugary Drinks

An Act to Promote Healthy Alternatives to Sugary Drinks | H.2529/S.1709

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; and other evidence-based methods of improving children’s health and wellness.

Pupil Dental Health

An Act Relative to Pupil Dental Health | H.1891

This legislation would require each child to receive a dental screening prior to entering kindergarten.

Studying Oral Injuries in School Sports

An Act to Conduct a Comprehensive Study of Oral Injuries in School Sports | S.1224

This legislation authorizes the Department of Public Health to conduct a comprehensive study of oral injuries in school sports and requires the department to develop strategic and legislative recommendations to reduce the incidence of oral injuries in school sports, including the mandatory use of protective mouth gear in all high-risk sports.