From the Medicare debate to three-year dental degrees, FYI brings you the biggest dental policy stories.

1. Vaccine mandate unlikely to apply to dental offices, according to CMS

Following President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers at hospitals and other health care settings, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has issued a statement suggesting that the mandate won’t directly apply to dental offices, as these are not regulated under Conditions of Participation. CMS is expected to issue an interim final rule later this month that will outline the vaccine requirements for applicable participating providers and facilities. Although the mandate will likely not apply to dentists, the mandate will apply to full-time employees of Delta Dental because the company is a federal contractor.

2. Medicare dental benefits would not kick in until 2028, according to Congress’ plan

Under Congress’ planned expanded Medicare coverage, dental benefits would not kick in for recipients until 2028, according to legislative text that was released by the House Ways and Means Committee. Beneficiaries would receive vision and hearing care in 2022 and 2023, respectively, according to the plan. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2019 that adding dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare would cost about $358 billion, with $238 billion for dental care.

3. Roseman second U.S. university to offer 3-year dentist training

Beginning in 2022, the College of Dental Medicine at Roseman University of Health Sciences in South Jordan, Utah, will become the second institution in the country to shorten its dental degree program from four years to three. The change is intended to reduce the cost of dental education, said the Roseman University dean in a news release. Roseman follows the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, which first offered a three-year program in 1942.

4. New CDC training resource outlines infection prevention in dental settings

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Oral Health has released free online training on safe care in the dental office and the principles of effective infection prevention and control. Foundations: Building the Safest Dental Visit is a self-paced training designed for dental health care personnel and others. The CDC partnered with the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention for the training, and OSAP will provide three hours of continuing education credit for completion.

5. October deadline to apply for COVID-19 provider relief funding

The deadline to apply for the fourth phase of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund is Oct. 26. The fund allows eligible dental service providers to apply for payments made for health care-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19. The agency is hosting a series of webinars on how to navigate the application portal and is also assisting providers with a Provider Support Line at 866-569-3522 from 9 am to 11 pm ET, Monday through Friday. The American Dental Association has also published a FAQ addressing dentists’ questions about applying for the funding.