ASDA voices priorities for COVID-19 relief packages
On July 17, ASDA along with 49 other dental organizations, signed on to a letter outlining the top priorities for consideration in future COVID-19 relief packages. Read the letter.
Free webinar: COVID-19 implications on dental public health
Participate in a free webinar from ASDA on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 7:30 pm CST: "COVID-19 and the Impact on Dental Public Health." Hear from Rear Admiral Timothy Ricks, the 19th Chief Dental Officer of the U.S. Public Health Service, and Dr. Jane Grover, Director of the Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention of the ADA, as they discuss how COVID-19 has affected dental care for vulnerable populations in unprecedented ways. Register now.
Voter Registration Drives and how to make them virtual
Voting is our civic duty. During these unusual times, the November election will look different. That's why registering to vote now is crucial. ASDA's National Council on Advocacy has created a resource to help chapters host voter registration drives. Download this how-to guide here. Additional resources on candidate information, finding your polling location and early or absentee balloting are available via ASDA Action.
FROM Washington
President Trump signs executive orders relating to COVID-19 relief

The issue: On Aug. 8, President Trump signed four executive orders to address unemployment benefits, payroll taxes and student debt relief.

Student debt relief
President Trump extended student loan relief through Dec. 31. The CARES Act previously suspended student loan payments and interest accrual through Sept. 30.

Unemployment benefits
Under his order, unemployment benefits were restored to $400 per week, with the states required to cover 25% of the cost. Under the CARES Act, individuals were eligible to receive $600 a week with the federal government covering the entire cost. That aid expired on July 31. Many states are already facing budget shortfalls due to COVID-19 implications with several states already borrowing money from the Treasury Department. Additionally, since Congress has yet to authorize federal unemployment benefits, it may require a new system to deliver the aid.

Payroll tax
The executive order defers the payroll tax through Dec. 31 for workers making less than $104,000 per year. It is unclear if individuals would have to pay back this money in the future.

Why is it important? Extension of student debt relief is a victory for ASDA. As dental students return to school, the future remains uncertain and additional relief is needed to navigate these challenging times. Advocating for student debt relief will always be a top priority for ASDA.

These executive orders come after White House officials and senior leaders within Congress could not come to agreement on the terms for the next round of COVID-19 relief funding. House of Representatives passed a $3.2 trillion relief package while Senate Republicans introduced a $1 trillion package. It is unclear how the executive orders will be implemented and if Congress will respond with any additional measures. ASDA will continue to monitor this issue.

HHS extends deadline for Medicaid and CHIP programs

The issue: As discussed in last month's issue of Advocacy Brief, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the allocation of $15 billion to Medicaid and CHIP providers from the Provider Relief Fund under the CARES Act. The previous deadline of Aug. 3 has been extended to Aug. 28.

Why is this important? While the deadline extension is helpful, it is important to note that dental schools are currently deemed ineligible for reimbursement of lost Medicaid revenue under the Provider Relief Fund (PRF). It is critical for dental schools to receive reimbursement and provide funding to dentists more broadly as institutions and health care professionals serve patients throughout this pandemic.

FROM the states
Several states address initial licensure during the pandemic
The issue: States are responding to concerns about professionals not able to receive licensure during this time. Please see below for an update on states that have taken action.

Iowa: Pursuant to Section Thirteen of the Proclamation of Disaster Emergency issued by Governor Kim Reynolds on April 24, 2020, the Iowa Dental Board is authorized to issue temporary licenses to dentists.
LouisianaOn June 25, the governor of Louisiana issued a renewal of state of emergency for COVID-19. The requirement that clinical licensing exams include procedures performed on a human subject is temporarily suspended for 2020 graduates of any CODA-accredited dental school.

Nebraska: On June 17, Pete Ricketts, Governor of Nebraska, temporarily suspended the requirement to complete an examination prior to obtaining credentials through Dec. 31, 2020.

South Dakota: On May 26, Governor Kristi Noem signed an executive order suspending the requirement that applicants submit proof of completing an examination prior to obtaining licensure through Nov. 30, 2020.

Washington: On June 19, Governor Jay Inslee modified the eligibility for Temporary Practice Permits of recent graduates from professional programs, including dentistry.

Why is this important? ASDA advocacy efforts have been critical during this uncertain time. Several of those states have announced changes to the licensure requirements for 2020 that align with ASDA's requests. It is important for you to stay involved in ASDA to ensure that lawmakers and regulatory agencies continue to meet the needs of dental students.

States expand Medicaid through ballot measures
Medicaid Expansion and Dental Benefits Coverage Infographic (Courtesy of ADA)
The issue: Oklahoma and Missouri become the latest states to expand Medicaid through ballot measures. On June 30, Oklahoma voters narrowly passed a measure expand Medicaid to individuals who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level.

On Aug. 5, voters in Missouri approved Medicaid expansion that could allow for 250,000 more adults to be covered by government health insurance beginning in July 2021.

Why is this important? With the addition of Oklahoma and Missouri, a total of 38 states have now chosen to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid expansion can lead to more funding being available for preventive dental care for adults. 

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.