“Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m an orthodontist from the northeast.”
With those few words, you can start a conversation with your senator and representative in congress. If you have not previously talked, emailed, texted or supported your friends in our nation’s capital then the time is now. As we have seen during the previous nine months, what happens in Washington, DC affects us all, especially in the world of health care. The northeast states have had a strong slant to the left for many years, and if you haven’t heard, the Biden administration is open to suggestions from our elected officials. The lists of senators and members of the House of Representatives for you to find your new friends and start a dialogue can be found here.
There will be a lot to talk about during the next few months, so please pick up the phone and say “hello.” Speaking to a member of senators’ or representatives’ staff is just as effective as speaking to the senator/representative themselves. The checklist that the ADA has compiled to strongly urge the new administration to focus on within its first 100 days is as follows:
• Including dentist advisors in all appropriate posts to advise the administration on oral health care, especially a permanent chief dental officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
• 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.
• Including dentists, who are essential health care workers, in Phase 1a of those who should receive early access to the COVID-19 vaccine. This recommendation was made recently by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
• Reversing the Medicaid provisions of a recent interim final rule that allows states receiving additional Medicaid funding the flexibility to cut optional benefits, such as adult dental health care.
• Reducing regulatory burdens on providers within the Medicaid program to help prevent dentists from disenrolling in Medicaid during this period of increased utilization.
• Ensuring medical supplies such as surface disinfectants and personal protective equipment are available when and where they are most needed during the pandemic, including all dental offices.
The ADA has also told Team Biden that the ADA continues to strongly urge Congress to pass additional COVID-19 relief legislation in order to ensure the safety and economic stability of dental practices across the country.
The ADA is also asking the 117th United States Congress to consider to implement a long list of actions to help the American people and the dental profession. The following are great talking points to bring up with your senator/representative as well.
• Providing tax credits to small businesses for the purchase of additional PPE and office safety improvements.
• Extending the deferment of payments and interest on federal student loans and considering policies that would provide deferments for privately held student loans.
• Providing additional flexibility for the Paycheck Protection Program loans, which 90% of dentists applied for by allowing borrowers to: deduct expenses paid for with the loans; take advantage of the Employee Retention Tax Credit; utilize a more streamlined forgiveness process; access additional PPP loans and permit 501(c)(6) organizations to apply for new PPP funds; and use future PPP loans to purchase personal protective equipment.
• Incentivizing health care practitioners to work in health-disadvantaged communities that have been further undermined by COVID-19 by providing tax credits, federal grants, additional student loan repayment and other assistance.
• Protecting the public health infrastructure, which includes expanding and extending funding for community health centers, teaching health centers and the National Health Service Corps.
If you need any assistance with starting a conversation with your senator/representative or on the local level with you governor, state senator, state representative, mayor or alderman please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-875-3800. Thank you and have fun meeting new friends.
Jeffrey Lowenstein, DMD