It’s a Wrap: 2018 State Legislative Session

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Colorado’s 2018 legislative session began Jan. 10 and ended May 9. It was a unique session filled with contentious conduct investigations, as well as a number of divisive issues. The CDA was fortunate to be able to accomplish many key objectives despite the rancor under the gold dome.

  • Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) Application by Dental Hygienists: With the passage of HB-1045, dental hygienists will soon be authorized to apply SDF treatments when working in collaboration with a dentist. The CDA helped guide this bill through the legislative process and worked to ensure the procedure was authorized under appropriate training, supervision, and referral requirements.
  • Opioid Prescribing: The CDA invested a remarkable amount of energy this session into ensuring opioid prescribing reforms were appropriate to help protect patients and allow necessary practice efficiency and flexibility. SB-22, which passed, changes opioid prescribing protocols for all healthcare professionals to a seven-day initial prescription limit, followed by a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program check and second seven-day fill. Certain exemptions apply, but the bill does not restrict subsequent opioid prescriptions. HB-1279 also proposed to require e-prescribing for all opioid prescriptions by 2021. The CDA worked hard to make sure this bill took into account the current limitations for dental practices, where technology is often not as advanced as in medical practices. HB-1279 ultimately died, though the concept is anticipated to be raised in future legislative sessions.
  • Healthcare Fee Disclosure: HB-1358 proposed to require all healthcare providers to annually disclosure the maximum possible charge for their full fee schedule and added sanctions (including removing the ability to bill a patient) for lack of compliance. This effort would have added to 2017’s SB-65, which required healthcare providers to disclosure their average fee for the top 15 procedures performed. The CDA and partners were successful in stopping this bill, which died in the final days of the 2018 session. However, fee transparency is a popular concept among policymakers and the public at present, so we anticipate a 2018 ballot initiative.
  • Patient Referrals: SB-115 proposed to expand federal Medicare and Medicaid Stark laws, which substantially restrict patient referrals. The CDA worked with partners to stop this bill, and it ultimately did not pass.
  • Medicaid Dental Benefits: A 1% provider rate increase was secured for Medicaid providers starting in July 2018. No other changes were made to the dental benefits in a year where the program came under some scrutiny around its funding source. Funding for dental loan forgiveness and dental public health programs were also increased. CHP+ program funding was also preserved after substantial uncertainty about federal reauthorization early in the year.

The CDA is always working to protect and improve the practice environment and parameters for members, as well as perceptions of the importance of dental care and oral health. To this end, the CDA engaged a top-of-the-line team at the state Capitol every day of the legislative session that kept pulse on the more than 600 introduced bills. This session, more than 60 bills were introduced that had either a direct or indirect impact on your practice. Check out the full list of bills the CDA monitored in 2018.