Millions of seniors and people with disabilities rely on Medicare for their health care, but it does not cover their oral health care. Even if someone needs dental care in order to have a medical procedure—like a kidney transplant patient who needs an oral infection treated to begin surgery -- Medicare won’t cover the oral health care. Luckily, coverage of “medically necessary” dental care could be added to Medicare through CMS’s administrative authority fairly easily without any need for legislation.
Nobody wants a root canal, but millions of Americans with mouth pain know it might be their best shot at protecting a tooth and stopping an infection from spreading—if they can afford it. Oral health affects all health and too many people in this country cannot access care. That’s why the Senate is considering the Action for Dental Health Act. But this measure should be the first appointment on our nation’s oral health checkup.
In July, Families USA joined the American Dental Association, Oral Health America, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Justice in Aging, DentaQuest Foundation, Santa Fe Group and other industry leaders, in releasing An Oral Health Benefit in Medicare Part B: It’s Time to Include Oral Health in Health Care, a white paper on the need for Medicare to include dental coverage.
We would like to share just one story about how a Medicare oral health benefit could change someone’s life. Cheryl in Olympia, Washington, has gone nearly 10 years without comprehensive oral health care.