CareQuest Institute for Oral Health — a leading national nonprofit focused on creating a more accessible, equitable, and integrated oral health system — applauded members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for urging the Administration to expand access to medically necessary dental care under the Medicare program.
In letters to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Senators and Representatives stressed the need to expand coverage of medically necessary oral and dental health services to improve the health of Americans enrolled in Medicare and reduce medical costs for the program.
CareQuest Institute for Oral Health President and CEO Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan issued the following statement:
“We commend these members of Congress for recognizing that oral health care is essential. Expanding medically necessary dental coverage under Medicare would greatly improve access to oral health coverage for millions of eligible seniors and people with disabilities.
Dental care is unaffordable and inaccessible for so many, leaving millions of people without the care they need to manage chronic illness and maintain quality of life. Right now, too many Medicare beneficiaries — including a disproportionate number of people of color, Indigenous communities, and rural Americans — have been left without basic oral health care and the impact on their physical and mental well-being is profound.
Strengthening Medicare by including dental coverage would represent a giant step toward improving health equity, access, and outcomes for seniors and people with disabilities. We will continue to work with lawmakers and our other partners to advocate for dental care to be covered by Medicare because it’s a commonsense solution to the many barriers that millions of people, including older adults, face when accessing health care.”
Additional research and facts about oral health and Medicare:
Poor oral health is directly linked to conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory illness, and even Alzheimer’s — all diseases that particularly impact our older citizens and put them at greater risk of COVID-19.
Of the 60 million Medicare beneficiaries, more than two-thirds don’t have any dental coverage at all.
Nearly half of all Medicare patients haven’t visited a dentist within the past year. That number is closer to 70 percent for Black, Hispanic, and lower-income Medicare beneficiaries.
One in five rural seniors hasn’t seen a dentist in the past five years.
One study estimated $63.5 billion in medical savings over 10 years simply by providing dental and periodontal treatment through Medicare.
Older adults delayed dental care more than any other health care during the pandemic.
ABOUT CAREQUEST INSTITUTE FOR ORAL HEALTH
CareQuest Institute for Oral Health is a national nonprofit championing a more equitable future where every person can reach their full potential through excellent health.
We do this through our work in grantmaking, research, health improvement programs, policy and advocacy, and education as well as our leadership in dental benefits and innovation advancements. We collaborate with thought leaders, health care providers, patients, and local, state, and federal stakeholders, to accelerate oral health care transformation and create a system designed for everyone.