Congress is currently working to develop its next piece of legislation to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is being referred to as “CARES 2.0”. Without a clear end in sight to the crisis, and with states in the process of beginning to reopen, dentistry is in dire need of assistance as we modify the way we operate our practices and deliver care to patients.
We ask that you contact your members of Congress to stress the importance of including the following policy recommendations in any future COVID-19 relief legislation. ADA is spearheading an allied effort within organized dentistry to advance many of these priorities. In addition to promoting these shared policy goals, AGD would appreciate your support in advocating for several additional provisions aimed at assisting dental practices, dentists, their staff, and patients.
- Allow small businesses increased flexibility within the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by starting or extending the 8-week period for which they seek forgiveness for the PPP loans based on a state’s date for allowing routine (elective) dental procedures. This flexibility will allow dental practices to make more appropriate decisions about staffing and payroll based on when they plan to reopen fully or when their state reopens for elective dental procedures.
- Ensure adequate oversight over the distribution and loan forgiveness provisions in the CARES Act for PPP loans. Increased oversight will guarantee that only those small businesses that were economically distressed as a result of the pandemic receive the funds and forgiveness.
- Intensify the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and establishing prioritization of distribution to health care providers, explicitly including dentists, who are treating emergency cases or near emergency cases now and as they resume elective procedures as they are permitted to do so in their states. Congress needs to ensure that there is an adequate supply of all levels of procedural and surgical masks and face shields available. This will help the dental team to continue to practice in a safe environment for themselves and their patients.
- Provide tax credits or allow utilization of PPP loan funds for the purchase of additional PPE and safety improvements for infection control within the office. This will assist financially stressed practices in providing an extra layer of safety and protection.
- Extend the Department of Health and Human Services’ discretionary authority during public health emergencies to provide targeted liability protections for providers who administer FDA-authorized COVID-19 diagnostic tests within their scope of practice until the end of 2020. This will expand the nation’s capacity to screen patients for COVID-19 outside of already burdened hospital emergency departments.
- Grant health care providers and staff protections from exposure liability if an individual claims they were infected with COVID-19 in a dental setting.
- Provide a mechanism to compel commercial insurance companies to provide benefits for business interruption insurance by removing the virus exclusion from the existing policies to provide direct payments to policyholders.
- Require HHS to distribute funds from CARES Act’s Provider Relief Fund to Medicaid-provider dentists, as was originally intended by Congress.
- Permit 501(c) (6) organizations to utilize the PPP loan program. This will ensure that non-profit medical and dental associations can continue to serve as a trusted resource for their health care professionals and patients.
We need your help in calling on Congress to safeguard our collective recovery from this pandemic. Action on the priorities outlined above will meaningfully assist dental practices and patients seeking oral health care, in addition to bolstering our resilience to future challenges.