On April 28, 2020, a team of AAO representatives met by phone with the Senior Healthcare Policy Advisor for Senator Thom Tillis (North Carolina), Bill Bode. The team of AAO representatives included Dr. Michael Durbin, AAO Trustee and Chair of the AAO COVID-19 Task Force; Dr. Phil Mansour, member of the AAO’s Council on Governmental Affairs and member of the COVID-19 Task Force; Rob Kent, Vice President of Advocacy and General Counsel for the AAO; Trey Lawrence, AAO Associate General Counsel; Gianna Hartwig, State Affairs Specialist for the AAO; and Alex Campau, lead on the AAO’s federal lobbying team from Cozen O’Connor. The opportunity for the meeting arose after Dr. Durbin participated in a webinar regarding PPE and related issues in which Sen. Tillis participated and expressed interest in the topic.

The AAO team discussed two particular issues, availability of PPE for AAO members, and federal regulatory guidance (primarily from OSHA and the CDC) on COVID-19-related areas. Regarding PPE, 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. The team discussed the need for practices to see patients, as well as safety considerations for orthodontists and staff as they see patients.

With respect to federal regulatory guidance, the group conveyed 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. The AAO team discussed the AAO’s COVID-19 Task Force and its current project to develop recommendations for PPE and other safety practices that are based on scientific evidence and tailored for particular procedures (primarily, aerosol-generating or non-aerosol-generating procedures). Mr. Bode asked that the AAO stay in contact with the Senator’s office regarding the work of the Task Force and forward the recommendations of the Task Force once available.

The AAO will continue to advocate on behalf of its members with respect to PPE and coronavirus-related regulations at the state and federal level.