ASDA is aware of the issues facing dental students during the COVID-19 national crisis. ASDA continues to advocate for measures that align with our policies to reduce student loan debt and eliminate the use of human subjects in a live clinical testing scenario. Please see below for updates on ASDA's efforts.  
ASDA offers licensure solutions and celebrates licensure victories  
ASDA is advocating for regional testing agencies and state dental boards to endorse a licensure process involving a manikin-based assessment along with a diagnostic skills assessment, available for fourth year dental students when schools re-open.  

ASDA is also recommending testing agencies and state boards consider providing 2020 graduates of CODA-accredited programs with preliminary licensure, allowing graduates adequate time to prepare for a clinical examination. Please review the 
correspondence  that was distributed to the ADA, ADEA, AADB, Dental School Deans, Regional Testing Agencies and State Dental Boards on March 21.
On April 3, ASDA President Sydney Shapiro sent out a letter to all members announcing important licensure reform victories. The ADA announced plans to expedite the release of the  Dental Licensure Objective Structured Clinical Exam (DLOSCE) in light of this national crisis. This is a huge win for dental students and the dental community.  Additionally, the Central Regional Dental Testing Service (CRDTS) announced their release of an all-manikin exam that can be administered for licensure. ASDA is also in communication with all other testing agencies that have plans to fast-track the development of their own manikin exam.  

On April 6 ADEX announced that they are now offering the CompeDontâ„¢, the simulated tooth developed as an alternative option in the dental licensure examination restorative challenge.  As noted in the press release, "this will offer dental licensure boards/agencies the choice to accept this non-patient involved professional proficiency demonstration or continue to accept the patient required participation."
ASDA held its first COVID-19 Licensure Town Hall Update on Tuesday, April 7. More than 500 attendees tuned in to learn more about ASDA's licensure policy, strategy and response to COVID-19 as well hear how other stakeholders are responding to licensure concerns in the crisis. A recording of the webinar will be available on April 14. 

ASDA addresses student loan concerns
On March 21, ASDA sent a letter to House and Senate leaders, encouraging them to consider deferring interest on federal student loans for dental students while in dental school, or a residency and deferring all monthly payments on federal student loans for all health care professionals, including dentists, without penalty.
Please review the letters.
ASDA supports small businesses 
On March 18, ASDA, along with 48 other dental organizations signed on to a letter requesting that the Department of Labor consider exempting small businesses from the family and medical paid sick leave for workers in H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Read the letter.

ASDA resources on COVID-19
ASDA continues to monitor legislative and regulatory movements. For the most up-to-date information, please visit ASDA's COVID-19 webpage. Here you can find resources to keep you updated on federal legislation, legislation in your state and actions ASDA is taking to advocate on your behalf.  
FROM Washington
Trump signs CARES Act into law

The issue: On March 27, President Trump signed the CARES Act into law. The bill provides $2 trillion in funding to help address the economic impacts of COVID-19. This is the largest spending bill passed in modern history. The bill includes helpful provisions for dental students, health care providers and small business owners. Here are the key takeaways from the bill:
  • Suspends student loan payments and interest accrual through Sept. 30
  • Suspension of payments count towards loan forgiveness programs including the Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
  • Allocates $4.3 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support federal, state and local health agencies
  • Gives small business owners, like dentists the opportunity to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan to request an emergency grant of up to $10,000, which the Small Business Administration (SBA) must provide within three business days of the request
Why is it important?  This legislation includes important victories for dental students and the profession. ASDA appreciates the efforts of Congress in addressing concerns over the ramifications of COVID-19.
Democrats introduce bill to support higher education

The issue: On March 12, Senator Patty Murray (Wash-D) introduced S. 3489, the Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act. The bill would provide funding for the following: 
  • $1.2 billion for Education Preparedness and Support Grants. These grants would allow governors to provide funding to higher education institutions or school districts that were impacted by COVID-19. 
  • $600 million for early care and education programs. Provides aid to ensure these programs remain operational. 
  • $1.2 billion for emergency financial aid for students. Allocates funding to help address student needs, like housing by unexpected school closures. 
  • $3 million for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Gives additional funding to provide resources to families, caretakers and teachers during the crisis.
Why is this important?  The effects of the COVID-19 outbreak are far reaching. It is important to provide adequate funding to not only students but higher education institutions in order to make it through the crisis.  

FROM the states
California Executive Order expands workforce to respond
to COVID-19
The issue: On March 30, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that increases the number of health care workers that can respond to staff additional hospital beds or assist health care professionals by caring for patients that need care for conditions other than COVID-19. Dentists are included in the expanded group of health care professionals that can respond during the crisis.
  • Taking vital signs
  • Testing for COVID-19
  • Triaging patients
  • Administering oxygen
  • Administering injectables, including vaccinations
  • Writing prescriptions
  • Intubating and providing deep sedation or general anesthesia services - applies to oral surgeons and dentist anesthesiologists only
Why is this important?  While several dental offices are closed or only open for emergency procedures, the Executive Order provides an additional way for dentists to serve their community during the crisis.  

States issue executive actions to ease licensure requirements 
The issue: 
Louisiana: On March 31, Governor John Bell Edwards signed a proclamation that relaxes licensure requirements in order to more effectively address the COVID-19 outbreak. The proclamation states: "the requirement that the clinical dental licensing examination include procedures performed on human subjects as set forth in R.S. 37:761 (C) is hereby temporarily suspended for those 2020 graduates of the LSU dental program who have applied and otherwise completed their licensing applications with the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry in 2020." 
Arizona: On March 11, Governor Douglas Ducey issued an executive order to issue provisional licenses to applicants that meet all other requirements but are unable to take a licensing exam due to school or testing center closures. The order states that the provisional license is valid six months after issuance.

Why is this important?  This is an evolving situation and ASDA is still investigating how this will impact current D4 students and their ability to practice in other states in the future. ASDA will keep you updated on these developments. 

Oklahoma bill looks to expand licensure portability

The issue: On March 11, the Senate passed SB 1891. The bill would grant occupational licenses to professionals that move into the state of Oklahoma that held licenses in another jurisdiction that are in good standing for at least one year . It would also apply to a licensed professional that is married to an active duty member of the military deployed in the state.  

Why is this important?  In the February issue of Advocacy Brief we shared that Missouri is considering a licensure portability bill. Since Arizona passed legislation in May 2019, we've seen an uptick in states introducing similar legislation.  

Advocacy Brief shares news about ongoing issues and legislation that are of interest to dental students and organized dentistry. Inclusion of items does not imply their adherence to ASDA policy.