Governor Inslee signs the 2015-2017 biennial budget
Tuesday evening Governor Inslee signed the 2015-2017 biennial budget into law. The budget highlights related to dentistry follow:
• The final budget did not include the proposed increase to the B&O tax on services. Dentists across Washington wrote their legislators asking them to oppose this proposal, and your voices were heard.
• The final budget included the fix to ensure that dentists will be eligible to receive loan repayment dollars. These dollars are a key aspect of increasing access to care in underserved areas by helping to make practicing in rural and underserved areas financially viable for practitioners.
• Unfortunately, the funding to increase the slots in the Regional Initiatives in Dental Education from eight to 30 was not allocated. As we’ve stated before, this program is well respected but did not rise to the top of the funding requests of the various universities involved in administrating the program.
* The two-year budget also included language requiring the Health Care Authority to develop a plan to implement an expanded oral health care program for adults with diabetes and pregnant women. WSDA supported this plan but also conveyed to the Governor that this is only a first-step. We explained that if the State really wants to improve oral health outcomes throughout Washington, it must increase Medicaid reimbursement rates.
The Legislature has yet to adjourn, Sine Die. Both the House and Senate will be back in earnest next week. You can read more about the legislative debate over amending the class-size initiative and its effect on ending the third special session of 2015 in the Seattle Times.