Congress passed a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package last week that would fund federal operations for the remainder of fiscal year 2022. The over 2,700-page package contains all 12 fiscal year 2022 spending bills, over $13 billion in funds to address the Ukraine crisis, and funding for congressional earmarks. Nondefense spending increased 6.7% to $46 billion while defense spending increased 5.6% to $42 billion.
Several dental priorities were included in the omnibus package. Residency programs for general and pediatric dentistry each receive parity under the legislation, receiving not less than $12,000,000 per specialty. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is appropriated $300,000 to continue its work on oral health literacy, marking the 4th year that funding for oral health literacy has been provided to HRSA. AGD worked with Representative Mike Simpson, DMD (R-ID) to secure funding. Finally, the package includes House language urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to issue guidance for states on best practices for auditing dentists and dental practices participating in Medicaid. The specific language follows:
"Medicaid Dental Audits.—The Committee has previously raised concerns that failure to use professional guidelines or established state Medicaid manual parameters in the auditing process can result in inaccurate Medicaid dental audits, negatively impacting dentist participation in the program and impeding patient access to care. While State Medicaid agencies (SMA) have significant responsibility in managing provider audits, the Committee believes that as part of CMS oversight of the Medicaid program it is appropriate to issue guidance to SMAs concerning best practices in dental audits and offer training in such practices. The Committee again urges CMS to develop such guidance for SMAs and report within 90 days of enactment of this Act on steps taken to develop such guidance."
Impact on General Dentistry: The AGD appreciates its congressional allies for working to include these specific dental priorities in the fiscal year 2022 appropriations legislation. Including oral health literacy funding, providing parity for general and pediatric dentistry programs, and strengthening language to urge CMS to develop Medicaid auditing guidance were all issues AGD worked to include in the legislative package.