CareQuest Institute Supports New Bill to Add Comprehensive Dental Benefits to Medicare

CareQuest Institute for Oral Health
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CareQuest Institute for Oral Health expressed its support of a new bill that would add comprehensive dental benefits to Medicare.

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The bill, the Medicare Dental Benefit Act of 2023, was introduced by US Representative Nanette Barragán (D-CA-44th) and US Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). It would help address significant unmet dental needs faced by older adults and people with disabilities and represent a move toward a more equitable health care system.

CareQuest Institute president and CEO, Myechia Minter-Jordan, MD, MBA issued the following statement:

“We commend Representative Barragán and Senator Cardin for filing this bill and prioritizing the health and well-being of millions of older adults and people with disabilities across our country. This legislation is an opportunity to help address the health care disparities that have plagued our country for generations.

“Oral health care is essential health care, and we know that a person’s inability to access dental care presents a clear threat to overall health, especially for some of our most vulnerable populations. Poor oral health has a direct connection to increased risks of chronic illnesses and can negatively affect mental health and overall quality of life. Still, millions of people with Medicare — a population that often faces comorbidities associated with periodontal disease like diabetes, heart disease, and dementia — don’t have access to this basic and necessary coverage.

“Adding a dental benefit to Medicare is a commonsense measure that would save taxpayer money, improve health outcomes, and address inequities that have existed for far too long in our health care system.”

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.
  • 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 haven’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 philanthropy, analytics and data insights, health transformation, 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.

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