STANDARD OCCUPATION CLASSIFICATION FOR DENTURISTS
It Is Needed And Should Happen
The National Denturist Association has been seeking a reversal of the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistic’s (BLS) denial of a separate Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) for denturists. The BLS has denied denturists a separate classification using the argument that the sample size for denturists is too low in most states for them to collect and report data on that occupation. Without the ability to collect data, there cannot be a separate occupation listing.
Many denturists asked local officials and sent letters themselves arguing that while the sample sizes for data collection may be low in some states, in states where Denturists are licensed the numbers are more significant and would be clustered in a way to make the data easily identifiable. There would be no confusion in collecting this data from households because a licensed denturist is a distinct profession with certifications and training so a household member would be very clear that they are a denturist. The data could be easily segregated.
The NDA did some research with several agencies in licensed states about the importance of being able to separate denturists from dentists and other dental professions. All have said that any separate identification would give them greater ability to segregate data and would be beneficial – especially since state tax and regulatory systems often treat occupations differently based on training and duties. This data collection could be helpful to states in the following areas:
- Comparing patient safety and health data between care given by a dentist to that given by a denturist. According to the Washington State Department of Health staff, “Having distinct data assists us in identifying profession growth rates, fee setting, and long-range planning to assure access to care.”
- Clearer assignments of occupational duties for state workers’ compensation systems.
- More appropriate tax rate assignment for levying of state business and occupation taxes.
- More accurate reflection of the labor market for training development purposes.
In addition, the ability for insurance companies to better compare service provided by denturists versus the same service provided by a dentist would help with patient affordability for those services.
State Senator Karen Keiser, from Washington State, went a step further and initiated communication with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. She recently received a response similar to the one previously received stating that there was not enough data for a separate Standard Occupational Classification. However, she was informed that the decision regarding 2018 SOC codes has not been finalized and she urged us to continue the push.
It is time for denturists across the country to contact their US Representatives and US Senators to ask them to urge the Bureau of Labor Statistics to create a separate Standard Occupational Code for Denturists. It is needed and should happen now.
By Carolyn Logue, Lobbyist for the Washington Denturist Association
CA Logue Public Affairs
6514 78th Avenue, NE
Olympia, WA 98516
DENTURIST ISSUES GETTING DISCUSSION BUT NO SOLUTIONS YET
THIS SESSION SPRING 2017
The Washington Denturist Association knew this would be a difficult year. With many new legislators and huge budget issues, asking for help with fees would be a heavy lift. Sure enough, although we had a simple bill and a great hearing, SB 5538, did not make it out of the Senate Health Care Committee by the cut off date to be kept alive for this session.
The bill would have required the state auditor to do a performance audit of the Department of Health’s health provider fee setting and also would have reduced the amount of indirect agency costs that could be applied to the Denturist program. The second part would have cut about $200 from Denturist fees. Special thanks goes to Senator Randi Becker (R -2nd District) and the other bi-partisan sponsors for bringing this forward. All is not lost however. WDA is working with legislators and the Department of Health to see what else might be done to reduce Denturist fees and we hope to see some results soon.
WDA has also been exploring how to tackle the problems some denturists have with insurance payments. While many of the issues are actually resulting from federal law and policy, there potentially are some changes that can be made at the state level. One method for finding a solution could be passage of SHB 1316 by Rep. Michele Caldier (R – 26th District). This bill would create require stand alone dental plans to come under state utilization review provisions and protect dental providers from being denied payment if a preauthorization was approved for coverage. It also would protect dental providers from being subject to audits if they file an appeal on behalf of a patient. Finally the bill would require the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to convene a workgroup to look at current dental insurance practices pertaining to coverage of benefits and the explanation of those benefits to covered persons. This bill is moving through the state House of Representatives currently and is expected to move to the Senate. The Washington State Legislature also passed, and the Governor has signed, SSB 5079. This bill allows Dental Health Aide Therapists to practice on tribal lands. The bill does not amend the Denturist statute but does provide the ability for dental services to be provided on tribal lands by this new provider type. A link to the bill is here. WDA is committed to continuing to work on these issues throughout the remainder of the 2017 Legislative Session and into the interim.
WASHINGTON STATE DENTURISTS
PREPARE FOR THE UPCOMING SESSION
Although education funding will dominate the 2017 Legislative Session in Washington State, the Washington Denturist Association is hoping to see some changes on two fronts – insurance and fees. In the insurance arena, we are exploring whether or not we can apply greater certainty that denturists will be included in the networks of in-state, stand alone dental plans to provide greater assurance of payment. We are working with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to ensure that any legislative change in this arena will benefit denturists as a whole and not create problems. Getting paid by insurance companies can be frustrating for denturists, particularly since many of the problems are from nationally based plans which the state Insurance Commissioner has no control over. If we can ensure that Washington state law specifies that licensed denturists are required to be in dental plan networks that may help. But we don’t want to see those networks limited to only a few. In addition, with Denturist fees being some of the highest provider fees in the state, we have embarked upon a search for ideas to help stabilize or reduce these fees. First, we have been working with the Department of Health. Second, we may pursue budget language to try and reduce the amount of “indirect fees” (those not related specifically to the Denturist program). For each Denturist, these fees equate to about $500 yet are supposed to be shared among all provider groups. Other individual providers pay far less. We are hoping the Department of Health and the Legislature will help us find a way to reduce this amount specifically. Other issues we expect to be working on include : “RAP Back,” and FBI fingerprinting program that would require all health care providers to have fingerprints and background checks on file; protecting reserves in our health care provider account from raids as legislators look for more money to fund education; and, mid level dental therapist legislation.
Washington State Elections Result in Status Quo
As usual it took a few extra weeks to get all of the ballots counted, but in the end the party balance in the Washington State Legislature will remain the same as the past two years. This means that the status quo will continue on budget and other issues as well. The Washington State Senate will remain a Republican majority even though they lost a seat in the election (Senator Steve Litzow was defeated by Lisa Wellman in the 41st Legislative District). Democratic Senator Tim Sheldon votes with the Republicans to give them the edge when it comes to selecting committee chairs. In the House, the Democrats will retain a narrow 50-48 majority over the Republicans. Governor Jay Inslee easily won his re-election which means that the Department of Health will continue with the same leadership. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler also won re-election which will leave the leadership in that agency intact. For Washington State Denturists, the election means little change as far as policy goes. With split control, the chance of large tax increases is minimized. Rep. Eileen Cody is likely to continue to chair the House Health Care Committee. In the Senate, current Health Care Chair Senator Randi Becker is moving to take over a higher leadership position in the caucus so we will expect an announcement regarding a new chair soon.
-by Carolyn Logue, Lobbyist for the Washington Denturist Association
CA Logue Public Affairs, 6514 78th Avenue NE, Olympia, WA 98516 – Carolyn.firstname.lastname@example.org