From mask mandates to Medicare promises, it’s been a busy month for dental news and policy updates. Here are the five biggest stories from the past month for you to peruse.

1. Vaccine mandates become a reality for California and VA dentists

Starting August 9, health care workers in California, including dentists and staff, will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or submit to regular tests if unvaccinated. Full compliance is required by August 23. Additionally, on July 26, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that dentists who serve Veterans must get fully vaccinated within eight weeks. The VA mandate covers Title 38 health care personnel, including dentists and other patient-facing workers.

2. The American Dental Association updates its guidelines

On July 13, the American Dental Association updated its pandemic procedures for offices to help fight COVID-19. Hazard assessments are encouraged, pre-appointment screenings are still necessary, and dentists are encouraged to exercise their best judgment when setting a safety plan for their practices.

3. Senate Democrats’ proposed budget would add dental coverage to Medicare

On July 13, Senate Democrats agreed to pursue a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that would add dental coverage to Medicare. Medicare serves almost 63 million members, so this could mean an influx of senior citizen patients if the bill passes.

4. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness deadline coming due

If you received a PPP loan last year, be sure to apply for forgiveness before the next deadline passes you by in September. Under the program’s rules, borrowers who don’t apply for forgiveness within 10 months of the end of the covered period will need to begin making payments to their lender.

5. Department of Health and Human Services bans balance billing

At the beginning of the month, the Department of Health and Human Services prohibited balance billing, effective January 1, 2022. The new rule, “Requirements Related to Surprise Billing; Part I,” applies to dental plans embedded in medical plans, but not to standalone dental.