Washington — The ADA is urging Congress to pass additional COVID-19 relief legislation with provisions the Association believes are crucial to ensuring the safety and economic stability of dental practices across the country.
In a Feb. 12 letter to leaders of the House and Senate, ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, D.M.D., thanked lawmakers for their continued efforts to combat the challenging effects of the pandemic and said “additional relief will also help to guarantee that patients receive the oral health care that is critical to maintaining their overall health.”
The policies the ADA would like Congress to consider include:
• 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.
• Making changes to the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. This includes providing start-up small businesses that opened after Feb. 15, 2020, with access to the PPP and other federal small business loans/grants, and ensuring that lenders are not requiring overly burdensome documentation for second draw PPP loans.
• Allowing borrowers with public and privately held student loans to defer interest and payments for the duration of the proposed emergency.
• Providing tax credits to small businesses for the purchase of additional personal protective equipment and safety improvements to the office.
• Addressing health workforce shortages and disparities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic through additional funding for the National Health Service Corps.
• Establishing a dispute/appeals process for providers to accommodate issues during the application process for the Provider Relief Fund.
• Increasing the federal medical assistance percentage to strengthen Medicaid programs during the public health emergency while requiring states to keep their current benefit structure in place if accepting additional funding.
• Supplying additional funding to Federally Qualified Health Centers for oral health care services.
• Directing the Department of Labor to allow certain small businesses, including dental practices, to be exempted from unreasonable ‘unsafe workplaces’ guidance if personal protective equipment is already mandated, vaccinations have already been offered to staff and the already documented low infection rate in dental offices is maintained.
For more information about the ADA’s advocacy efforts during COVID-19, visit ADA.org/COVID19Advocacy.