Health and Human Services Conference Committee Concludes Work
The HHS Conference Committee concluded its work late last night, with several dental issues being included in the final report. The report will now be voted on by the House and Senate - possibly as early as Thursday. It is expected, however, that the Governor will veto it, setting the stage for high level negotiations to balance the state budget. Further cutting of dental programs could still occur as legislators and the Governor seek ways to balance the state budget. The negotiations and passage of an agreement, if any, must be accomplished by midnight Sunday evening. If such an agreement is not completed within that time frame, negotiations would then need to continue after the Constitutional deadline and the Governor would need to call a special session to adopt the budget balancing legislation.
Dental related components of the HHS report include:
- Designation and termination language for the critical access program was not included in the bill.
- State operated dental clinics are funded and will be kept open.
- Critical access funding is made available for Medical Assistance patients as defined by the Senate. The Senate approach focuses on non-profit community dental clinics with language giving DHS discretion to designate a dentist or dental clinic as a critical access dental provider if the dentist or dental clinic would significantly increase access to dental care in a service area.
- Representative Bunn’s adult benefit set add backs were not approved.
- The Governor’s recommendation to eliminate the funding for Donated Dental Services Program was not taken—funding for the DDS Program continues.
- The non-covered services language in the bill, which targeted 62C companies only, was not adopted—the Senate simply would not agree to it.
- No further dental therapist language was brought forward by anyone.