Advocacy + Legal Resources Related to COVID-19
AAO COVID-19 Task Force
In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the AAO has formed an AAO COVID-19 Task Force. The COVID-19 Task Force, comprised of a diverse and experienced group of individuals, includes orthodontists, orthodontic educators, members of the AAO Legal Department, and experts in the areas of infection control, infectious diseases, and office design. The Task Force is informing AAO’s advocacy efforts with the CDC, OSHA and the ADA and supporting AAO members with relevant resources.
PPE and Infection Control
PPE and infection control have been important topics as practices like yours have looked for ways to stay open safely. The following articles outline our efforts to clarify PPE guidance for orthodontic practices.
- AAO Advocates Before CDC Concerning PPE and COVID-19 Guidance
- AAO Continues to Advocate for Members on PPE, Regulatory Guidance
- AAO Task Force and COGA Obtain OSHA Clarification Regarding Guidance for Dentistry
- AAO Advocates for Members on PPE, Regulatory Guidance Issues with U.S. Senator’s Office
COVID-19 has dealt quite a blow to small businesses across the country – including orthodontic practices. The AAO has closely followed developments at the federal level, and offers the following guidance on obtaining relief.
- CARES Act Application
- CARES Provider Relief Fund Application and Attestation Portal
- Office of Civil Rights and Secretary of Health and Human Services Waives HIPAA Compliance Requirements
Additional Funding for Paycheck Protection Program
On Thursday, April 23rd, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an interim Coronavirus aid package that provides an additional $310 billion to the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and an additional $10 billion to the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Today, Friday, April 24th, President Trump signed this legislation into law. The PPP will still be administered through banks and credit unions, and the EIDL application process will still be administered through the federal Small Business Administration (SBA). Of the $310 billion for the PPP loans, $60 billion is allocated specifically for smaller banks.
Importantly, if you have already applied for a PPP loan, you generally do not need to reapply, but this is dependent on whether your specific lender was maintaining your application in a queue during the PPP’s funding lapse. It is important that you check with your lender on the issue to confirm that do not need to reapply.
AAO Joins Dental Coalition Asking For Enhanced Commercial Business Interruption Insurance Policies
On May 19, 2020, the AAO joined other dental groups to send a letter to House and Senate Leaders, as well as the Chairs of the House Financial Services Committee and Senate Banking committees, requesting the inclusion of provisions to enhance commercial business interruption insurance policies in the next legislative package related to COVID-19 crisis relief.
Many dental practices that hold business interruption insurance have recently learned that their policies do not cover government-ordered business shutdowns caused by a national emergency or viral pandemics. Proposals such as H.R. 6494, the Business Interruption Insurance Coverage Act, could offer businesses the option to address damaging gaps in coverage and bolster our country’s economic resilience during future crises. The letter asks that Congress consider providing an immediate support mechanism to help businesses currently left behind by shutdown or viral-related exclusions in business interruption insurance policies. The letter also asks Congress to build on successful models to require insurers to offer market-oriented solutions for shutdown or viral-related business interruption insurance coverage that are guaranteed with some kind of federal partnership, trust fund or backstop.
The AAO will continue to monitor federal and state regulatory and legislative activity concerning COVID-19-related issues and will continue to advocate on behalf of its members on these issues.
Three Things the CARES Act Orthodontists Need to Know
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the CARES Act, a relief package that addresses unemployment benefits, small business loans, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and more. The AAO Legal and Advocacy team supported the passage of this legislation and worked alongside other dental organizations to advocate on behalf of AAO members.
Below is an analysis of unemployment insurance, PPP and EIDL with targeted strategy and suggestions from Cain Watters and Associates for how these programs will affect orthodontists specifically. The AAO encourages its members to familiarize themselves with the programs described below and seek additional guidance from local lenders and your own legal counsel for more specific guidance and instruction.
Advocacy Update: Temporary Dept. of Labor Ruling Issued
As previously reported here, the AAO joined the ADA and other dental organizations on a letter asking the Secretary of Labor to exempt small businesses (under 50 employees) from the new emergency paid sick leave provisions in the recently-passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Under the Act, which became law on March 18 (effective April 1, 2020 until December 31, 2020), employers with under 500 employees could be required to pay for two weeks of sick leave for employees under certain circumstances, or pay for up to 10 weeks of sick leave for an employee whose child is required to miss day care or school because of a COVID-19 closure.
In a temporary rule announced by the Department of Labor on April 1 (which can be viewed here), the Secretary of Labor clarified that employers with less than 50 employees may be exempt from the sick leave requirements if they meet one of three conditions:
- granting such sick leave would cause “the small employer’s expenses and financial obligations to exceed available business revenue and cause the small employer to cease operating at a minimal capacity;”
- granting such sick leave would “pose a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capacity of the small employer because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business or responsibilities;” or
- the employer “cannot find enough other workers who are able, willing and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services the employee or employees requesting leave provide, and these labor or services are needed for the small employer to operate at a minimal capacity.”