Washington — As Congress works on a third legislation package in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the ADA is asking lawmakers to include provisions on how to assist dental practices and other small businesses facing economic burdens.
In a March 18 letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., ADA President Chad P. Gehani and Kathleen T. O'Loughlin let the lawmakers know that the Association is doing “its part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19" by asking dentists nationwide to postpone nonemergency procedures and only treat emergency dental care cases over the next three weeks. The letter was sent to every member of Congress and was also part of a March 19 ADA email blast to dentists.
“Doing so will allow us to care for our patients in great need and alleviate the burden that dental emergency cases would place on hospital emergency departments,” Drs. Gehani and O’Loughlin said. “Unfortunately, many dental practices simply do not have the reserves or cannot accommodate the dramatic reduction of cash flow that is required during this partial shutdown.
“While tax credits are helpful, they will only provide for partial reimbursement, and those would occur months later. With the uncertainty resulting from the outbreak, dental practices now more than ever need adequate cash flow to keep their businesses viable and address staffing issues.”
The ADA is asking Congress to consider the following in additional legislative proposals to address COVID-19:
• Easing and expediting the process for businesses to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans through the Small Business Administration.
• Deferring all monthly payments on federal student loans for all health care professionals, including dentists, without penalty.
• Deferring or eliminating payroll tax matching and payments, as well as deferring quarterly income tax payments for small business owners.
• Providing additional tax cuts for small businesses, which could include expanding Section 199A to include all small businesses regardless of income.
• Applying all telehealth de-regulation to virtual check-ins for dental evaluations (teledentistry) and supporting payment for these services within both Medicaid as well as commercial plans.
• Waiving an Employer's Annual Federal Unemployment Tax for 2020 for small business employers with under 50 employees or freeze the current rate.
• Requiring all business Interruption Insurance policies to cover national emergencies including those related to diseases such as COVID-19.
• Allowing for a one-time withdrawal without penalty from an individual’s 401k.
“As you consider the next legislative package, we urge you consider some of these suggestions to assist small business. Without help, we believe many dental practices will have to close,” the letter concluded.
To directly contact their legislators to ensure they include programs helping dentistry in coronavirus relief legislation, the ADA is asking dentists to visit the ADA Legislative Action Center at ADA.ActionCenter.org.
For a comprehensive FAQ to help explain how the federal government is responding to the coronavirus pandemic, visit the House Committee on Ways and Means website.
Follow all of the ADA’s advocacy efforts at ADA.org/advocacy.
Please visit ADA.org/virus for the latest information. If you have questions that are not answered by the FAQ posted at ADA.org/virus, please email MSC@ada.org.