The following is a synopsis of an article appearing in the June/July 2022 issue of the NYSDA Journal written by Lance Plunkett, J.D., LL.M. You can go to the NYSDA website (www.nysdental.org) to read the article in its entirety.
Legislative Bills Passed
First is A.9478-A (Lupardo)/ S.6694-B (Harckham), which was signed into law on May 9 by Gov. Hochul as Chapter 198 of the Laws of 2022. The bill took effect immediately and now allows dental hygienists certified to use nitrous oxide and local infiltration anesthesia to use those modalities to assist dentists with all dental procedures. This will help dental offices gain efficiency and better serve patients.
Second is A.7754-C (McDonald)/S.8533-A (Harckham), a bill to allow registered dental assistants to place and remove temporary restorations. This bill awaits delivery to Gov. Hochul for action; it is fully expected that the governor will sign it into law. Back in 2007, the New York State Education Department mandated that registered dental assisting programs teach and train registered dental assistants to place and remove temporary restorations. However, the registered dental assisting scope-of-practice law was never updated to match that directive, which has been carried out ever since 2007. The bill fixes that technical glitch to match the existing education standards and training of registered dental assistants to their scope-of-practice law.
Third is A.9967 (Glick)/S.8808 (Stavisky), a bill to remove the language "clinically-based" from the law defining dental residency programs that qualify for licensure. That language was preventing many accredited dental specialties, such as orofacial pain, oral medicine, and dental public health, from qualifying for licensure purposes. The bill also awaits delivery to the governor for action; it is fully expected that the governor will sign it into law.
Several Budget Items of Interest to Dentists
1. A critical item in the final budget was $125,000 appropriated through the New York State Department of Health for services and expenses of NYSDA related to the Association's Dental Demonstration Project charitable grant program- with no restrictions on how the funds can be applied. Gone are the requirements to work only with Article 28 facilities or Federally Qualified Health Centers. The funds can be used in any setting and not just for free dental services for our Dental Demonstration Project program. This money was in the Aid to Localities Budget Bill.
2. A 1% across-the-board increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates and a restoration of previous Medic aid reimbursement reductions of 1.5% in the Health and Mental Hygiene Budget Bill, for a total increase of 2. 5%. This is the largest increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates in many years.
3. A requirement that an independent contractor will be employed to comprehensively review and assess the Medicaid managed care program. This is something NYSDA has been asking for many years, and it is already working.
4. $ 750,000 appropriated through the New York State Education Department for a Dental Grants Program to be available for teaching dental students to work with individuals with disabilities in the Aid to Localities Budget Bill. This had been a priority item of the NYSDA Board of Trustees, to promote improving access to care for the developmentally disabled population.
5. There were three small business tax benefits that certain dentists and dental offices could take advantage of. The first is a tax credit under the New York State Economic Development Law for COVID-19 capital costs for items needed to deal with COVID-19 in a business. Obviously, dental offices had to purchase many such items. Dentists will want to discuss with their accountants how to file for and document a claim for this credit. The second is a new provision in Section 612 of the New York State Tax Law that the amounts of any student loan forgiveness awards will not be included in income for the recipients. The third is a provision of Section 612 of the Tax Law that increases from 3% to 15% the amount of small business income that can be excluded from gross income and taxation. Again, dentists will want to consult with their accountants on eligibility and documentation for claiming this small business income exclusion, which also applies to New York City local taxes.
6. There is a new provision in the New York State Social Services Law creating healthcare worker bonuses for employees who remained on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic and earned less than $12 5 ,000, specifically including dental hygienists and dental assistants. The employer must serve at least 20% Medicaid patients to qualify for the bonuses, and the amount of the bonuses cannot exceed $3,000. The pro gram will be administered by the New York State Department of Health. Eligible employers will be sent materials on how to implement the bonus program. They will pay the bonuses to their eligible employees and then Medicaid will reimburse the employer for the cost of the bonuses
7. The Excess Medical/Dental Malpractice Insurance Program is continued for a year and any changes to the payment structure of that program were eliminated.
8. There is a provision that allows a dental license exemption for out-of-state dentists (and the same exemption for other healthcare professionals) working for the 2023 World Winter University Games. NYSDA typically supports these kinds of bills as standalone measures to help athletes get care at athletic events from their regular traveling healthcare providers.
9. The final budget also contained provisions to conform New York State law to the federal No Surprises Act and to make the New York version of that law apply to dentists and other healthcare professionals. The previous New York law had ap plied only to physicians, but the federal law applies to all healthcare professionals and preempts the New York law on that issue. Therefore, New York opted to conform to the federal law. The major feature of the federal law is that un insured or self-pay patients are required to get good faith estimates of the costs of services, but that is something dentists have routinely provided to their patients. Otherwise, because neither the federal nor the New York No Surprises law ap plies to billing under standalone dental insurance plans, the applicability of these laws to dentists is somewhat limited, covering out-of-network billing under medical insurance and for emergency services. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are most likely to be impacted by the billing provisions of the New York and federal No Surprises Acts.
10. The Legislature did finally pass the state Employer Transparency Law. It requires employer transparency about minimum and maximum salary ranges when advertising to hire or promote or transfer an employee. This was already a law in New York City, now it will apply statewide to employers with four or more employees. The bill awaits delivery to the governor for action. Even if signed into law by the governor, it would not take effect until 270 days after signing.