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ADA urges FCC to include dental practices in telehealth program

January 21, 2021

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA is again asking the Federal Communications Commission to extend the agency’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program to include dental practices so that they may be eligible for additional funding from the relief bill passed at the end of 2020.

In comments filed Jan. 19 on the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program, ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D. and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, D.M.D., said “throughout the pandemic, dentists have screened patients by phone, text and video to help determine the need for treatment” and noted the video conferences are “an especially effective way” to evaluate potential dental emergencies.

Drs. Klemmedson and O’Loughlin also stressed that “dentists, many of whom are facing significant economic challenges due to the pandemic, need access to FCC funds in order to afford teledentistry costs.”

“Such costs could include software to electronically message and screen patients, upgrades to the office computer system, upgrades to the office internet, extra-oral X-ray imaging equipment, digital sensors and X-ray units, and digital cameras and intra-oral cameras,” Drs. Klemmedson and O’Loughlin said.

These sentiments reiterated the Association’s April 27 letter that urged FCC to reconsider its decision to limit participation in the COVID-19 Telehealth Program.

"The ADA is disappointed that the FCC did not follow the ADA’s recommendations" and "we hope that, given the additional $249.95 million allocated to the program in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the FCC will award funding to dentists, including for-profit providers," the January letter concluded.

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