This fall, Governor Christine Gregoire called the Legislature into a special session to address a projected $2 billion dollar shortfall in the current biennium (2 year) budget for the general fund. In response, the Legislature compiled a supplemental budget package with nearly $480 million in budget cuts as a "down payment" on entirely closing the budget shortfall during the 2012 regular session. Cuts in the supplemental budget include workforce reductions, delaying payments to school districts, and transferring $83 million in unused funds from the last biennium back into the general fund. The special session budget package did not include further cuts to dental Medicaid funding, the UW School of Dentistry, or any other dental related programs. While the $480 million in cuts reduces the budget shortfall, more work will need to be done during the 2012 regular session.
Difficult budgetary decisions still remain and further cuts to the dental safety net and the dental school will be up for discussion. Here's a list of dental programs that will be discussed:
- Eliminating non-emergent dental care for the remaining patient populations in the adult dental Medicaid program. These patient populations include adults with developmental disabilities, pregnant women, and long-term care patients. (Approximately $8 million)
- Eliminating the enhanced fee for the UW School of Dentistry DECOD (Dental Education in Care of Persons with Disabilities) program. DECOD receives this enhanced fee because the program trains dental students how to provide treatment for the DD population. The DECOD program cannot continue to operate without this enchanced funding. (Approximately $700,000)
- Eliminating the Volunteer/Retired Provider Malpractice Insurance (VRP) program. The VRP program pays the malpractice insurance and licensure costs for retired health care practitioners who only provide uncompensated care at free clinics, community health centers, and other charitable clinics. Approximately 100 dentists and dental hygienists participate in the program along with another 600 health care practitioners. (Approximately $220,000)
- Reductions in the reimbursement rates for some or all of the dental procedures in dental Medicaid may be considered. These reductions would likely be made at the agency level to close an agency budget shortfall.
WSDA will continue monitoring all state budget activity and provide updates as they develop. Please contact email@example.com with any questions.