ADA to Congress: Include dentists, patients in coronavirus legislation

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Image courtesy of CDC/Alissa Eckert, Dan Higgins.

Washington — The American Dental Association is urging Congress to include oral health care providers and their patients in any legislation proposed to confront the coronavirus disease outbreak.

In a March 12 letter to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Ranking Member Gary Peters, D-Mich., the ADA thanked the committee for holding hearings exploring ways to support health care providers during the crisis. The letter will also be sent to other congressional committees holding hearings on the issue.

“We ask the committee to ensure that dentists, who are primary care doctors specializing in oral health, and their patients are not inadvertently excluded from legislative proposals as they move forward,” wrote ADA President Chad P. Gehani and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin. “We especially ask Congress to remember the need for dentists to have access to personal protective equipment supplies, such as face masks, in order to protect their patients, their staff and themselves from infection. We encourage Congress to consider proposals to incentivize production of these supplies and discourage individuals from buying them for their personal use when not medically necessary.”

The ADA also said it is committed to educating dentists and the public on the role that dentists can play in protecting everyone — including patients and staff — from exposure to the virus.

The letter concluded with the Association offering to serve as a resource on how the coronavirus is specifically affecting the dental profession and patients and directed lawmakers to visit for up-to-date guidance about COVID-19. 

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