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AAO Advocates for Members on PPE, Regulatory Issues with Rep. Gosar’s Staff

On May 20, 2020, the AAO participated in another of a series of meetings with members of Congress who are dentists to discuss issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A team of AAO representatives met by phone with staff for Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ-4), to advocate for AAO members with respect to availability of PPE, issues regarding federal agency regulations concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, and increased flexibility regarding use and repayment of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

The office of Rep. Gosar was represented by Legislative Assistant Will Stechschulte, who handles healthcare policy for the Congressman. The team of AAO representatives included Dr. Michael Durbin, AAO Trustee and Chair of the AAO COVID-19 Task Force; AAO Legal and Advocacy staff Rob Kent, Trey Lawrence, and Gianna Hartwig; and Alex Campau, lead on the AAO’s federal lobbying team at Cozen O’Connor.

As in other recent meetings with dentist members of Congress, the AAO team first raised concerns about availability of PPE for AAO members. The AAO team conveyed that the AAO absolutely supports first priority for PPE for “first line” workers (healthcare professionals treating COVID-19, first responders), but wants to make sure that PPE is also available for orthodontists and staff as practices begin to reopen under state and local guidance. With respect to federal regulatory guidance, the AAO team explained the AAO’s concern that following the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal regulatory agencies like OSHA and the CDC may seek to make permanent the current interim guidance regarding PPE for medical practices.

Finally, the AAO team discussed issues regarding the PPP loans utilized by many AAO members. Specifically, the AAO team indicated the AAO’s support for proposals that are currently being considered by Congress that would allow PPP loan funds to be used for PPE and other similar expenses. Furthermore the AAO encouraged allowing small business dental practices to choose the 8-week period for which they seek forgiveness for the loans and rehire staff before December 31, 2020, instead of requiring them to rehire staff by June 30, 2020.

Rep. Gosar’s office indicated interest in each of these issues. They also asked that the AAO continue to keep Rep. Gosar updated on any developments regarding these issues, and further asked that the AAO notify Rep. Gosar as other issues of interest to AAO members arise in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the assistance of the AAO’s lobbying team at Cozen O’Connor, the AAO continues to schedule additional meetings with congressional offices, as well as regulatory agencies, to advocate for AAO members regarding these and other issues.