As cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to climb in the U.S., the devastating effects of the pandemic are being felt throughout the medical community. The safety of medical providers and those they treat is paramount. Accordingly, on March 17, the American Dental Association recommended that dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants reduce hours, postpone elective procedures and only treat dental patients who have emergencies for a minimum of three weeks.
Dallas dental practice owners who can are choosing to pay staff in full for the short term, or at least at a partial rate. Others are paying out PTO days, or suggesting staff file for unemployment. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which became law on March 18, 2020, guarantees free COVID-19 testing, establishes emergency paid sick leave, expands family and medical leave and and enhances unemployment insurance, among other benefits.
As part of the historic $2 trillion CARES Act stimulus relief signed into law on March 27, 2020, the $350 billion Emergency Coronavirus Relief provisions provide funds for payroll, mortgage payments, rent, utilities and other debt service requirements. The payment protection loans are for businesses with up to 500 employees. The covered loan period is February 15 through June 30, 2020.
News is coming at us at a rapid rate as we wait to learn more about the federal stimulus plan. What can Texas dental practices do to monitor cash flow, and what steps can they take to retain good client relations for when the economy recovers?
See if a TWC (Texas Workforce Commission) Shared Work program is right for your practice
A Shared Work program provides Texas employers with an alternative to layoffs. It is voluntary and is designed to help Texas employers and employees during this slowdown in business. Your employees’ lost wages due to reduction of work hours will be supplemented with partial unemployment benefits. This is a viable consideration if you have reduced work hours by at least 10% but not more than 40% and the reductions affects at least 10% of your employees in that “unit” (a unit consists of two or more employees).
Stay on Top of Accounts Receivable
Be sure you don’t lose sight of in-process invoices and insurance reimbursements during this time. Know that there will be delays due to understaffing at insurance companies and patient financial hardships caused by the pandemic but take all reasonable measures to keep accounts receivable moving.
If you have an insurance-based practice, contact all your insurance plans to check the status of claims. Ask if anything is missing. For example, did you forget to attach any required documentation? See what you can to expedite claims. Above all, be extra cautious to avoid medical coding errors and mispriced services to avoid delays and denials.
When necessary, work with self-paying patients to establish a plan that will break payments into reasonable amounts. When necessary, work with companies like Care Credit to provides lines of credits or loans that patients – with good credit scores – can use to pay for either past procedures or current emergency procedures.
Seek Loan Relief for Your Dental Practice
Bank Loan Deferrals
Similar to hurricane relief, some lenders are offering 60- to 90-day payment deferrals to help businesses get through this difficult time. Check with your lender to understand the terms of the payment deferrals and whether any fees apply.
If you have an existing line of credit, you may want to increase the amount, whether or not you plan to use it at this time.
SBA Disaster Loan Program
In response to COVID-19, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is providing low-interest, federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses in designated states, including Texas. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) are limited to working capital for small businesses loans of up to $2 million, which may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. They are available to small businesses directly affected by the COVID-19. Again, these are working capital loans and are not meant to replace lost revenue.
EIDL loans are only available to businesses without access to credit elsewhere, such as existing lines of credit. Information about the application process for EIDL assistance is being made available to all affected communities as well as updated on SBA.gov/disaster.
Related Recorded Webinar: A Cost-Benefit Approach to PPP Loan Forgiveness
Payment Protections Loans for Small Businesses
As part of the historic $2 trillion CARES Act stimulus relief signed into law on March 27, 2020, the $350 billion Emergency Coronavirus Relief provisions provide funds for payroll, payroll taxes, employer health insurance, pension benefits, mortgage payments, rent, and utilities. The payment protection loans are for businesses with up to 500 employees. The covered loan period is February 15 through June 30, 2020.
Continue to Communicate with Patients
The nation is experiencing a health crisis, but the crisis will eventually come to an end. Just because you are not working normal business hours, be sure to use your website and social media to keep your patients informed. Do they know the difference between a dental emergency and a procedure that could be rescheduled? Help them understand.
Review practice management software to track patient treatment plans. Follow up with these patients personally to ensure they follow through with their plan later. Once there is a better understanding of when you will be able to resume practice hours, get them scheduled for their appointments. The bottom line: you want to make sure your patients stay with you when life returns to normal.
COVID-19 Resources and Planning Services
There are many options to consider in navigating the next 30 to 90 days. You need a plan – a business continuity plan. If you need experts to help your practice develop your plan or revise the one you have in place or you want to learn more about managing cash flow for your Dallas dental practice, our COVID-19 Business Advisory and Planning Services Group is ready to assist. For timely and important updates, visit GPP’s COVID-19 Business Assistance and Resource Center.
For immediate questions, email CARETEAM@GPPcpa.com
Note: This content is accurate as of the date published above and is subject to change. Please seek professional advice before acting on any matter contained in this article.