Direct-to-Consumer Orthodontic Consumer Protections
The movement of teeth without appropriate diagnostics can have significant harmful and irreversible effects on patients including loss of teeth, a misaligned bite, shortened roots, and receded gums. For this reason, an in-person exam and current radiographs are needed before beginning treatment to understand more fully what is going on beneath the gums, to avoid complications, and to determine if patients are suitable candidates for orthodontic treatment. With the emergence of new direct-to-consumer (DTC) business models offering various dental services that are ordered without an in-person clinical examination, it is imperative that orthodontic treatment continues to meet a uniform standard of care regardless of whether the treatment occurs through telehealth or in person. CAO continues to advocate for consumer protections that ensure that DTC orthodontic business models have the same level of oversight and patient safety as traditional in-person care.
MICRA Repeal Ballot Measure
The ballot issue (which CAO opposed) has been withdrawn. A compromise was reached by proponents, stakeholders and legislators, who worked collectively to compromise with Assembly Bill 35 (AB 35). While the ballot measure would have effectively eliminated MICRA’s provisions, the agreement codified in AB 35 preserves nearly all of MICRA as it stands today. Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act allows injured patients to receive unlimited economic damages for all past and future medical costs, lost wages and lifetime earning potential. MICRA also allows up to $250,000 in noneconomic damages and includes a limit on attorneys’ fees, stabilizes liability costs and reduces incentives for frivolous lawsuits against health care providers. You can find insight from key constituents here.
Candy-flavored Tobacco Ban—Support
The U.S. Surgeon General and the FDA have labeled youth e-cigarette use an “epidemic,” and four out of five kids who have used tobacco started with a flavored product. Meanwhile, more than 150,000 Black Americans have died prematurely because of minty-sweet menthol, the original candy-flavored cigarette. In 2020, California overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan, landmark law to protect kids by ending the sale of candy-flavored tobacco in our state. Since then, corporations like Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds have spent millions to delay the law, with the goal of stopping it permanently. They’re using lies and sweet flavors like blue raspberry, root beer, and minty menthol to hook kids and make them lifelong customers. Candy-flavored tobacco is going to be on the California ballot in 2022. A “YES” vote will stop Big Tobacco from using candy flavors to lure kids into a lifetime of addiction.
Bills Supported in 2022 Legislative Session
AB 1923—Devon Mathis | Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Partnership Academies
Summary: The State Department of Education, under the administration of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, has numerous duties with respect to the funding and conduct of the instructional activities undertaken by school districts. This bill would establish Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Partnership Academies and would require the department, in coordination with the Superintendent, to issue grants to school districts to establish up to 100 partnership academies dedicated to training young people in STEM occupations, as specified.
AB 1982—Miguel Santiago | Telehealth: Dental Care
Summary: Current law provides for the regulation of health insurers by the Department of Insurance. Current law requires contract between a health care service plan or health insurer and a health care provider to require the plan or insurer to reimburse the provider for the diagnosis, consultation, or treatment of an enrollee, subscriber, insured, or policyholder appropriately delivered through telehealth services on the same basis and to the same extent as the same service through in-person diagnosis, consultation, or treatment. Current law requires a health
care service plan or health insurer that offers a service via telehealth to meet specified conditions, including, that the health care service plan or health insurer disclose to the enrollee or insured the availability of receiving the service on an in-person basis or via telehealth, from, among others, the primary care provider or from another contracting individual health professional. Current law defines “contracting individual health professional”; for those purposes and excludes a licensed dentist from that definition. This bill would remove the exclusion for dentists from the definition of “contracting individual health professional” and would instead require a health care service plan or health insurer offering telehealth, for dental plans, to disclose to the enrollee or insured the impact of third-party telehealth visits on the patient’s benefit limitations, including frequency limitations and the patient’s annual maximum.
AB 2123—Carlos Villapudua | Bringing Health Care into Communities Act of 2023
Summary: Current establishes various programs to facilitate the expansion of the health care workforce in
rural and underserved communities, including, but not limited to, the Health Professions Career Opportunity Program and the California Registered Nurse Education Program. This bill, the Bringing Health Care into Communities Act of 2023, would establish the Bringing Health Care into Communities Program to be administered by the agency to provide housing grants to specified health professionals to be used for mortgage payments for a permanent residence in a health professional shortage area, as specified. Under the bill, a health professional would be eligible for a grant for up to 5 years. The bill would make its provisions operative upon appropriation by the Legislature.
AB 2145—Laurie Davies | Dental Services: Skilled nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities/developmentally disabled
Summary: The Dental Practice Act provides for the licensing, regulation, and discipline of, among others, registered dental hygienists in alternative practice. This bill would provide that a registered dental hygienist in alternative practice may render dental services to a patient in a skilled nursing facility or an intermediate care facility/developmentally disabled. The bill would also authorize a registered dental hygienist in alternative practice to provide oral health in-service training to staff in a skilled nursing facility or an intermediate care facility/developmentally disabled.
SB 853—Scott Wiener | Prescription Drug Coverage
Summary: Current law generally authorizes a health care service plan or health insurer to use utilization review, under which a licensed physician or a licensed health care professional who is competent to evaluate specific clinical issues may approve, modify, delay, or deny requests for health care services based on medical necessity. Current law prohibits a health care service plan contract that covers prescription drug benefits or a specified health insurance policy from limiting or excluding coverage for a drug on the basis that the drug is prescribed for a use that is different from the use for which it was approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration if specified conditions are met. Current law also prohibits a health care service plan that covers prescription drug benefits from limiting or excluding coverage for a drug that was previously approved for coverage if an enrollee continues to be prescribed that drug, as specified. This bill would expand the above-described prohibitions to prohibit limiting or excluding coverage of a dose of a drug or dosage form.