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ADA urges new administration to prioritize oral health in first 100 days

Association reiterates need for additional pandemic relief

December 01, 2020

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA is sharing key dental concerns with the incoming presidential administration — particularly those relating to COVID-19.

In a Nov. 30 letter to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, D.M.D., urged the new administration to focus on the following priorities within its first 100 days:

• Including dentist advisors in all appropriate posts to advise the administration on oral health care, especially a permanent chief dental officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
• Giving temporary and targeted liability protection to small businesses that follow applicable public health guidelines during the pandemic, including dentists who conduct Food and Drug Administration-approved tests and administer FDA-approved vaccines.
• Including dentists, who are essential health care workers, in Phase 1a of those who should receive early access to the COVID-19 vaccine. This recommendation was made recently by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
• Reversing the Medicaid provisions of a recent interim final rule that allows states receiving additional Medicaid funding the flexibility to cut optional benefits, such as adult dental health care.
• Continuing to work with the dental community to address operating room access issues that have been further exacerbated by COVID-19 as hospitals were and are again being forced to limit elective surgical procedures to address the strain of the pandemic on operating room access.
• Reducing regulatory burdens on providers within the Medicaid program to help prevent dentists from disenrolling in Medicaid during this period of increased utilization.
• Ensuring medical supplies such as surface disinfectants and personal protective equipment are available when and where they are most needed during the pandemic, including all dental offices.

The ADA also told the incoming administration that the Association continues to urge Congress to pass additional COVID-19 relief legislation in order to ensure the safety and economic stability of dental practices across the country.

In particular, the ADA is asking Congress to consider:
• Providing tax credits to small businesses for the purchase of additional PPE and office safety improvements.
• Extending the deferment of payments and interest on federal student loans and considering policies that would provide deferments for privately held student loans.
• Providing additional flexibility for the Paycheck Protection Program loans, which 90% of dentists applied for by allowing borrowers to: deduct expenses paid for with the loans; take advantage of the Employee Retention Tax Credit; utilize a more streamlined forgiveness process; access additional PPP loans and permit 501(c)(6) organizations to apply
for new PPP funds; and use future PPP loans to purchase personal protective equipment.
• Incentivizing health care practitioners to work in health-disadvantaged communities that have been further undermined by COVID-19 by providing tax credits, federal grants, additional student loan repayment and other assistance.
• Protecting the public health infrastructure which includes expanding and extending funding for community health centers, teaching health centers and the National Health Service Corps.

For more information about the ADA’s advocacy efforts during COVID-19, visit ADA.org/COVID19Advocacy.