COVID-19 Updates: Vaccination update, Congress passes relief package, HHS launches next round of Provider Relief Fund payments.
WSDA knows that dentists and their team members are frontline healthcare workers for whom getting the vaccine is a priority. We will continue to aggressively advocate for your access to the vaccine, as well as reinforcing that dental care is essential during this pandemic and beyond. We know many of our members would like to be vaccinated as soon as possible and are awaiting guidance from the state and counties on their vaccination plans.
WSDA’s dialogue with state and county authorities is still ongoing. The Department of Health has not yet published its full vaccination plan. We do know that the state vaccination plan will be heavily influenced by the National Academies of Medicine's Framework for Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus and guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Both the ADA and WSDA believe that the term “healthcare personnel” used in ACIP guidance include those who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials.
We want to be clear that the DOH’s initial guidance is not the full vaccination plan and limited to only those who should be vaccinated first with the very limited initial allotment the state has received so far. The challenge of vaccinating millions of people in our state will be a complex process and we will share updates to plans as soon as they are publicly available.
Congress Passes COVID-19 Relief Package
After thousands of grassroots emails from ADA members, as well as extensive lobbying from the ADA’s Government Affairs team, Congress has passed an end of the year package. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 funds the government through the end of fiscal year 2021 and also includes COVID relief. The bill is currently awaiting signature by the President.
The bill contains numerous key provisions of significant importance to you, your practice and your patients, including:
- Making expenses paid for with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans tax deductible.
- Eliminating the requirement that PPP loan forgiveness would be reduced by the amount of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grant that was received by the business.
- Allowing PPP borrowers to utilize the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC). The bill also increases the wage cap and percentage of eligible wages for that credit.
In addition, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will be re-opened and a second round of PPP funds will be made available. This additional PPP eligibility will be limited to small businesses with 300 or fewer employees that had a 25% revenue loss in any quarter of 2020, and there will be additional funding set aside for businesses with 10 or fewer employees. See an updated SBA loan fact sheet from the ADA here.
HHS Launches 3rd Round of Provider Relief Fund Payments
HHS launched Phase 3 of its Provider Relief Fund distributions Dec. 16, sending $24.5 billion in financial aid to more than 70,000 health care providers, the agency said in a news release. HHS said calculations will take into account revenue losses and expenses attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic and invited previous applicants to seek additional funding, according to ADA News, which said the ADA worked closely with HHS and the Health Resources and Services Administration to ensure dentists were included in the Provider Relief Fund. The agency provided a state-by-state breakdown of Phase 3 payments that will be updated until distribution closes at the end of January.
Dr. Dennis Bradshaw