Official Newsletter
December 2021
Renew Your Membership
The Washington Denturist Association is a community of Denturists who can benefit from networking and working together to strengthen the profession of Denturism. Your membership has many benefits, which include:

  • Navigating legislation in Olympia to protect our profession, through our membership and through our lobbyist.
  • Gathering for continuing education credits required for licensing renewal.
  • Building our professional community through strengthening relationships with other denturists.
  • Providing referral for your business within your local community.
  • Providing resource for special discounts for your liability insurance.
  • Networking with supply and other professional organizations to help you grow your business.
  • Providing all our members with an inclusive membership to the National Denturist Association (NDA). (Your annual dues for the WDA also cover your annual dues for the NDA).

Denturism in the State of Washington is a thriving and expanding profession. The WDA is on the front line of seeing our professionn expand throughout the state and into the future. We continue to work closely with the National Denturist Association to expand our profession beyond the borders of Washington with the hopes of seeing our profession in every state throughout the United States. Please renew your membership and lets work together to create a bigger and brighter future for all the patients we provide our services to.

Warm Regards,
Membership Committee, Washington Denturist Association
**Members that pay their invoice in full prior to January 31, 2022 receive a discounted rate of $900.

Renew your membership by clicking the button above, or mailing a check to:

Washington Denturist Association
5727 Baker Way NW
Suite 200
Gig Harbor, WA 98332
Meet WDA's New Board Members
President
Joseph Kimmel
Joseph Kimmel went to A Job Corps for a Dental Assisting Degree. He has been in the dental field for over 16 years, where he has worked for the state of Washington as a dental assistant in the prison systems and community healthcare. He met David Hill while working in the prison system and learned about Denturism. He then went to school full time and worked full time on McNeil Island as a dental assistant. In 2017 he graduated Bates College as a licensed Denturist. He held an Internship with David Hill Denture Services NW for a year into his Denturist program, and worked at Denture Services NW for almost 4 years. Joseph was hired at Willamette Dental in 2021 and continues to work there.

Joseph loves his career and this profession, stating this is the most gratifying thing he has ever done! When he is not being a Denturist, he enjoys all the PNW has to offer, which includes snowboarding, hiking and spending time with friends and family. He also loves to wood work, mostly cabinets and the occasional piece of furniture or yard arbors.

Joseph is looking forward to serving as the WDA President and is excited to see help guide this association and profession forward.
Vice President
Christian Iturriaga
Christian grew up in Santiago, Chile. He is fluent in Spanish and English. He moved to Seattle in 1994. Christian graduated from Bates Technical College in 2005 as a Denturist. He has worked as a Denturist in the Seattle area, Yakima and in 2014 settled in the Tri-Cities. In 2017 he purchased Dentures 4 U (a well-established business since 1999). He is meticulous in all aspects of making dentures unique for each person. He gives back to the community by volunteering his services at Grace Clinic. In his free time, Christian is an avid soccer player and scuba diver. Christian looks forward to contributing on the WDA Board!
Director
Jason Alsbury
Jason Alsbury has served 17 years in the denture industry. He started his career in the lab, eventually working up to manage the department where he was servicing 30+ clinics. Jason served in the U.S. Air Force, which was stationed in Washington D.C. He graduated from the American Denturist College in 2017. Jason also holds a B.S. in Business Administration, Project Management and has an A.A. in Paralegal Studies. Jason is the owner of Apex Denture Studio located in Yakima, WA since 2020.
Legislative Update
From Carolyn Logue
WASHINGTON STATE TO HAVE ANOTHER (MOSTLY) VIRTUAL LEGISLATIVE SESSION

We’ve finally received the plans for the House and the Senate, and although both create more opportunities for in person involvement (with masks, vaccines, and testing requirements), the bulk of the 2022 Legislative Session will be done remotely.

Primarily, all committee sessions will be remote which means all testimony will be remote. This provides more opportunity for people to testify from their offices or homes but provides less interaction during those hearings for discussion and finding out how legislators are going to vote on issues. In person meetings will be allowed, but the spaces for those meetings and the number of people who can attend will be limited. The public will be able to be in the galleries in some limited capacity, but I am not sure yet whether lobbyists will be able to be in the Capitol building at all hours which is necessary to get bills passed in many cases.

For the Washington Denturist Association this means we should be able to get good response for legislative meetings that are done remotely and hopefully more denturists will find the time to testify on bills impacting the industry. In particular, we will need all hands on deck to keep our insurance bill moving.


**URGENT LEGISLATIVE CALL TO ACTION**
 
CALL AND EMAIL YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY! URGE THEM TO PASS OUR BILL THAT WOULD REQUIRE DENTAL INSURANCE PLANS TO INCLUDE DENTURISTS AS PART OF THEIR NETWORKS AND NOT SHUT THEM OUT!
 
It is time to pass our bill requiring all dental insurance plans in Washington State to include denturists in their networks if they provide denture benefits as part of their plan!

CALL OR EMAIL YOUR THREE STATE LEGISLATORS TODAY AND URGE THEM TO DO THE FOLLOWING:

  • Support legislation that would require any dental plan that offers denture benefits to include Washington State licensed denturists in their networks.
  • Currently Washington State Licensed Denturists are being shut out of dental insurance plans, even if a dentist refers to them. This is denying patients in Washington State – many of whom are low income – access to denture care from trained, licensed, and affordable providers.
  • Denturists have been licensed in Washington State for over 25 years. There is a State Board of Denturists with licensing and disciplinary authority. The State Board also oversees training requirements.
  • A gap in our law requires health care plans to include “every category of provider” in health care plans but forgot to include stand alone dental plans – leaving these insurers the ability to completely shut out a category of licensed providers.
  • Without this changes, some of our most vulnerable citizens will not have access to affordable dentures fit by a specially trained, licensed professional. This leaves these citizens at risk of health issues related to a lack of teeth in addition to significant negative social and emotional risks.

  • Ask your legislators not only to support the bill, but also to contact Carolyn Logue at Caloguepublicaffairs@comcast.net to help sponsor and introduce the bill.

JUST FOLLOW THESE STEPS:

  1. Click on FIND YOUR LEGISLATORS to find your three legislators (look for both your work and home address – you may have six)
  2. Click on ROSTERS to find your legislators email addresses and phone numbers. You can also find their legislative assistants and send a copy to them or know who you are talking to when you call. 
  3. Let Carolyn (your lobbyist) know what responses you get. Send them to caloguepublicaffairs@comcast.net

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO TO HELP GET DENTURISTS INTO DENTAL PLANS?

With so many new dental plans on the market turning away denturists, it is time to be more aggressive in your communities to stop the bleed and turn the tide. NDA and WDA are working on changing this but we need all hands on deck! The following actions will help:

  • Ask the dentists you work with to contact the Washington State Dental Association and the American Dental Association and urge them to work with insurance plans to allow all dentists to refer patients to licensed denturists in their communities.
  • Ask your patients to contact their legislators and congressional officials to alert them to the problem and ask them to set policies that will allow them use denturist services when they have denture benefits.

WDA WORKING TO RESOLVE MEDICAID ISSUES

While initially slightly giddy at the thought of increased Medicaid reimbursements, denturists were brought quickly back to earth when the increased payments coincided with new rules requiring pre-authorizations for replacement dentures – particularly dentures under 10 years old. Requirements for photos, increased denials due to a lack of a not clearly defined “medical necessity,” and other new requirements have led to increased paperwork, frustrating both denturists and patients. Particularly when even with the new increased reimbursement, costs are still much higher to provide the denture and many Medicaid patients are not able to adequately care for their dentures to avoid replacement.

WDA has had two meetings with the Dental Specialists in the State Medicaid program regarding these issues. Some changes have been made that have eased some problems but there are still many difficulties for those denturists who opt to provide Medicaid services. We are continuing to have meetings and are continuing to send issues with denials and other problems in to help track them and to get resolution.

If you are having problems with the Washington State Medicaid program – particularly with denials where you have clearly made the case, complete with photos – please contact Jayson Diaz at the Washington State Health Care Authority -- jayson.diaz@hca.wa.gov. Also, please cc our lobbyist – Carolyn Logue at caloguepublicaffairs@comcast.net so we can track what is happening as well.

OTHER NEWS
 
State tax collections in the rise

The state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released its quarterly report Nov. 19 to estimate the state’s tax collections and predictions for growth over the next two biennial budget cycles.

Despite the economic downturn caused by the pandemic and measures to control the virus, Washington state’s economy is strong.

The forecast outlined:
  • Revenues for the current budget cycle are now projected to be $60.2 billion, with projected revenues for the next two-year budget cycle at roughly $64 billion;
  • The 2019-21 budget outlook increased $898 million;
  • The 2021-23 and 2023-25 budget growth is estimated at 6.3%; and,
  • Washington’s economy is expected to outperform the national economy in both employment and personal income growth in years 2022–2025.

While the outlook appears positive, the council warned Washington state still faces headwinds, including:
  • Rising inflation with no indication of slowing or reversing, meaning costs are rising, stretching family budgets;
  • New COVID case rate may have flattened, but economic impacts of the pandemic are still lingering, and new variants could disrupt the economy in the future; and,
  • Supply chain and logistics issues, coupled with workforce shortages, remain unresolved.

A breakdown of the revenue forecast and future budget increases can be read here. When lawmakers convene in January, they will have 60 days to work on a supplemental budget to address caseload changes and other minor adjustments. The next two-year budget will be built in 2023.

 
Long-term care payroll tax subject of initiative to the Legislature

In 2019, the Legislature passed a law creating the Washington Cares program. It is billed as a solution to supporting Washington residents with long-term care costs. To fund the program, a $0.58 payroll tax will begin Jan. 1, unless residents opt out of the program. The cost is estimated at $435 per year for someone making $75,000 per year.

The new program would give residents up to $36,500 to be used for in-home or in-facility long-term care. However, among many flaws in the program, if someone moves out of the state, they cannot take their funds with them. Additionally, those wishing to take advantage of the program must meet a list of criteria to qualify for the stipend.

There have been calls from lawmakers and others to pause the program, particularly now that hundreds of thousands of residents have filed paperwork to opt out of the program.

In an effort to curb the chaos with opt-out language in the Washington Cares Act and subsequent fall-out from insurers pausing selling long-term care insurance policies, Initiative 1436 to the Legislature was filed. If passed, I-1436 would make Washington's controversial long-term care program optional – or an opt-in rather than an opt-out for residents. The initiative has until Dec. 8 to gather enough signatures to qualify for legislative consideration.

State minimum wage to increase Jan. 1
The state Department of Labor and Industries announced that the statewide minimum wage for Washington workers will move up to $14.49 per hour beginning Jan. 1. Workers who are 14 or 15 years old may be paid 85% of the adult minimum wage, or $12.32 per hour.

Some local jurisdictions, such as Seattle and Sea-Tac, will have higher minimum wages based on local ordinances. Based on changes to the state’s overtime rules, the higher minimum wage may also impact workers and employers across the state.
Read more about the wage increase here.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance rates to rise in 2022
Employers will see an average of 3.1% increase in workers’ compensation rates in 2022, the state Department of Labor and Industries (LNI) announced in September.

“The proposed 3.1% overall average rate increase is driven by cost-of-living adjustments for pensions, which were triggered by an increase in the state's average wage. This is an average, meaning some employers will see their rates go down while others will see larger increases,” the agency wrote in a press release.

New COVID-19 variant discovered
Last week, a new variant of COVID-19, Omicron, was found to be spreading rapidly in countries in South Africa. In a move to contain the variant, President Biden put in place restrictions for travelers coming to the U.S. from affected countries.

This new variant raises the specter of additional restrictions on residents in Washington state, though no announcement has yet been made by the governor or other state leaders.

Many lawmakers and others have urged legislative oversight of the governor’s emergency powers in light of the nearly two years of lockdowns and other restrictions in Washington state.

To date, no cases of Omicron have been identified in the U.S.
Update From WDA Insurance Committee
WDA Members:

Here is information about new Dental Plans that will pay a Denturist. You do not have to join a network to be accepted to these plans.
 
Enrollment Guides are attached. They have 3 plans. 2 of them require Medicaid and Medicare, the 3rd does not. The 2 Medicaid plans include $3,000 in dental. The Medicare only plan includes $2,400 in dental.
 
All three plans will use the Flex card starting January 1. On the front page of the enrollment guides it lists the counties where it is available. See if your county is included.
 
If you have patients who may qualify for these plans who may be on another Medicare Advantage plan such as United Healthcare or Humana they may be able to switch to one of the attached plans. Starting this Friday, new enrollment is open and goes through mid December. These plans are based in Washington and a lot of people will be signing up for these Molina network plans.
 
If you or your patients have any question have them call:
 
Terry Cullinane
Insurance Producer Medicare, Medicaid & More
Telephone number 206-383-9984
 
He is very informative about these new dental plans that will begin in January and he is very happy to help the Denturist's of Washington. I have been speaking to him for a couple of year's and we are very excited that finally we are going to be able to take a Medicare Advantage plan. Hope this helps with some of the others we are struggling with.
 
Thanks,
 
Carol Carbone 
WDA Insurance Committee Chair