From Medicare news to the latest on COVID policy, FYI brings you the biggest dental policy stories.

1. New Medicare Advantage network policy for dentists

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has clarified that rules prohibiting payment to providers who have opted out of participation in Medicare don’t apply to supplemental benefits, such as dental. The new policy will become effective January 1, 2022.

The new policy means that dentists who have opted out of our Medicare Advantage (MA) network can now file MA claims, and Delta Dental will pay claims for MA enrollees who participate in closed-panel MA group plans.

Note that Delta Dental can accept and pay these claims from dentists outside our MA network only as long as this policy remains in effect. Therefore, we strongly encourage dentists who have opted out of this network to enroll.

Our MA network provides you with a great way to keep your retirement-aged patients and continue to provide them with quality dental care. And since you’ll appear in our online MA network provider directory, you can attract new patients as well. Reimbursement is based on your current Delta Dental PPO fees.

Be advised that the MA network opt-out period is two years and will automatically renew unless you notify us 30 days before your current opt-out period ends that you’d like to enroll. Since you may not be aware that you’ve opted out, we encourage you to review your MA network status as soon as possible.

2. New York City vaccine mandate now includes dentists

All private employers in New York City, including dentists and their employees, must be vaccinated against COVID-19, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced December 6. The mandate will take effect December 27. Dentists and their staff must provide proof they’ve received at least one dose of the vaccine. An exception for people who agree to regular COVID-19 testing instead of the receiving the vaccine won’t be allowed.

New York state currently has a vaccine mandate for all health care workers (which the United States Supreme Court upheld on December 13); however, it doesn’t apply to private practices such as dental offices.

3. White House pledges to help address dental care shortages in underserved communities

The Biden administration announced it will invest $1.5 billion to help tackle a shortage of dentists and other health care workers in disadvantaged communities. The funding will come from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed in March.

The resources will go to the National Health Service Corps, Nurse Corps and Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery programs. These federal programs offer scholarships and assistance with student loans to health care workers and students who agree to work in underserved communities.