California Increases Licensure Fee Cap



Governor Jerry Brown of California has signed a bill that increases the cap on dental licensure fees as well as most other fees as part of the Dental Board of California’s sunset review.

The proposed cap for initial and biennial renewal fees, which was part of AB 179, will increase to $650 as of Jan. 1, 2016, and rise to $800 in 2018. Fees won’t increase immediately since the board will still need to go through a 12- to 18-month regulatory process.

The board raised licensure fees last year for dentists to the current amount, $525, via SB 1416. It now must set a new cap to prepare for fee increases that will be needed over the next 5 to 10 years. Renewal licensure fees remained at $385 for nearly 2 decades before rising enforcement and licensing costs required the recent increases.

The board maintains that an increase in the cap will give it the flexibility needed to adjust to changing budget circumstances in the future. The increase follows a board fee audit, completed last December in preparation for this year’s legislative sunset review process, which occurs every 4 years and lets the Legislature assess the board’s performance and what changes may be needed.

The audit showed in detail how much of the board’s budget is spent on each board function. For example, it revealed that the board spends significantly more on enforcement than for all other functions and predicted the board will run a $4.3 million deficit this fiscal year.

Furthermore, the audit made several recommendations for regaining financial stability, including that the board create a structural budget, set a reserve target and policies on its use, develop value-based, cost-recovery policies, regularly and incrementally update its fees, and repeat this type of analysis every four to five years.

Finally, AB 179 also included language exempting spousal care from the definition of “professional misconduct” for all healing arts professionals. The Legislature has provided this type of exemption for physicians and surgeons for more than 20 years.

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