Exempt small dental practices in order to prevent an oral health crisis

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March 19, 2020

(original letter authored March 18, 2020)

Dear Senator,

There is no doubt that COVID-19 is doing great economic harm. The bill passed by The Senate and signed by The President after the below letter was authored has the potential to wipe out all small dental practices. This is in part because of the unknowns of how the virus is transmitted and also because we would not receive certain exemptions. If small practices in the United States cannot remain economically viable it could be conceived that there would be a secondary healthcare crisis because the oral health care needs of Americans could not be met.

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I am writing on behalf of my colleagues in the dental profession, many of whom are owners or work in dental practices of 50 or less employees. I understand the urgency of relieving certain industries such as Hospitality and Travel with the H.R. 6201, but the language may be too broad for certain segments of healthcare, namely dentistry. I am writing in an urgent plea to reconsider exempting small dental practices and certain other healthcare providers from certain portions of the H.R. 6201 bill that has been sent from the House to the Senate and is now on the Senate floor for consideration—specifically, the sections that address unemployment benefits; and sick leave/family medical leave.

With the unknowns of exactly how COVID-19 is transmitted and the recent recommendations by almost every national and state professional society as well as some state health departments that we close our doors, our profession is gravely threatened thereby potentially causing a secondary public health crisis when we may not be able to meet the oral health care needs of the American people.

As doctor owners and doctor non-owners we care deeply about our employees and our community. Many practice owners implicitly understand the mechanism that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted and voluntarily chose to close our practices before any recommendations were made by professional societies or health departments-I personally was the first in my area on Sunday March 15, 2020 and sent notice to my staff and patients we would be closed hours before it was recommended by my state society and a full day before the American Dental Association.

The H.R. 6201 bill as written stands to wipe out small dental practices if we do not receive certain exemptions. Theoretically, if the reasons we are being asked by our professional societies to close are indeed shown to be true, our regular patient care could become disrupted to the point of incapacitating our ability to treat our patients. If small practices do not receive substantial economic relief for this burden, it could be conceived that the viability of every small dental practice in America would be threatened. This result would thereby cause a secondary healthcare crisis because the oral health care needs of Americans could not be met. The unemployment crisis would worsen with the addition of dental workforce.

Sincerely

Dr. Mira Albert

Founder Brush Pediatric Dentistry

Hinsdale, Illinois.