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ADA weighs in on HEALS Act

Proposed COVID-19 stimulus legislation contains critical tax provisions, improves PPP loans

July 31, 2020

By Jennifer Garvin

Photo of US Capitol Wide Shot
Washington — As Congress works on the next COVID-19 legislative package, the American Dental Association is urging lawmakers to continue providing relief to dental practices facing economic burdens in the wake of the pandemic.

On July 27, Senate Republicans unveiled the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Act. This stimulus bill— collectively known as the HEALS Act — comprises eight different bills, many of which contain provisions that the ADA believes will be beneficial to dentists and their patients.

Here are some of the actions the ADA has taken so far in response to this legislation:

The American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act. The ADA sent a July 31 letter to Senate Finance Committee leadership noting that tax provisions contained in the bill are “critical for small business dental practices.” The bill establishes a refundable payroll tax credit equal to 50% of an employer’s qualified employee protection expenses, including personal protective equipment, as well as other qualified workplace reconfiguration and technology expenses. It also calls for enhancing the employee retention tax credit by increasing it to 65% (up from 50%) of certain wages paid by employers, and lowering the amount of the reduction in gross receipts required to qualify as an eligible employer to 25%. The bill will also allow Paycheck Protection Program borrowers to be able to take advantage of the employee retention tax credit. The ADA also urged Congress to make expenses paid for with PPP funds be tax deductible and have Provider Relief Funds paid to dentists not be included as taxable income.

Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act. The ADA sent a July 31 letter to Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, to express support for several provisions in this bill that the Association thinks will be “essential” to ensuring dental practices are able to continue to employ their staff and “provide essential oral care services to their patients.” The ADA said it supports the following Paycheck Protection Program enhancements included in the bill: expanding the program’s eligibility to include certain 501(c)(6) nonprofit organizations, covering worker protection expenditures— including PPE, streamlining forgiveness for loans under $150,000 and simplifying the application process for loans between $150,000 and $2 million.

Safeguarding America’s Frontline Employees to Offer Work Opportunities Required to Kickstart the Economy, or SAFE TO WORK Act. In a July 30 letter, the ADA told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the health care liability protections in this bill provide dental owners with “safeguards against coronavirus-based claims that could derail the progress made in reopening their practices.” The Association also said the bill highlights Congress’ “strong commitment to small health care businesses by granting temporary labor and employment law protection and clarifying already existing product liability protections.”

Supplemental Appropriations Request. The ADA sent a July 30 joint letter, along with the American Association for Dental Research and the American Dental Education Association, to leaders in the House and Senate asking them to include designated funding for the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research in the final package. The dental groups noted that neither the HEALS Act nor the House-passed Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act contained funding for NIDCR. “While we are grateful that these proposals include vital funding for the NIH Office of the Director for critical recovery and research investments, NIDCR has been excluded from the list of NIH Institutes and Centers for which specific funding allocations have been made,” ADA, AADR and ADEA wrote, “Yet, NIDCR has a critical role to play in COVID-19-related research. Specifically, NIDCR can help us answer questions about ensuring the safety of dental practitioners and patients in dental treatment environments and about how to prevent COVID-19 transmission, improve its detection and diagnosis, and understand its pathogenesis — all of which are critical for combatting this disease.”

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