Medicare Dental Bill Introduced
On 4th January, Senator Ben Cardin from Maryland introduced S.22, the Medicare Dental Benefit Act of 2019 — a bill that, if enacted, would allow older adults and persons with disabilities to access their oral healthcare as they do their medical care — through Medicare.
During the past four years, Oral Health America, along with partners in aging, health policy and dental organisations, have worked together to advocate for adding a dental benefit to Medicare Part B under a shared commitment to improve the health and well-being of all Medicare beneficiaries. S.22 recognises that oral health is connected to total body health by covering services that are necessary to prevent disease and promote oral health, restore oral structures to health and function, and treat emergency conditions. A provision under Medicare Part B signifies that all beneficiaries would receive coverage, including those enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.
People face many barriers when it comes to accessing oral healthcare including a lack of educational resources and the ability to pay for needed care. Additionally, poor oral health has multiple implications relative to chronic other diseases. Poor oral health impacts nutrition as well as mental and social health and the ability to live independently in the community. Through OHA’s Tooth Wisdom®: Get Smart About Your Mouth community workshops, hygienists are equipping older adults with tips on how to maintain a healthy mouth while aging. At the beginning of class, participants are asked why oral health is important to them. One Chicagoan exclaimed, “To kiss!”
“For Oral Health America, S.22 is more than adding dental and oral health services to Medicare Part B; it’s about ensuring people can take part in their day to day activities like eating nutritious foods without pain, playing with their grandchildren without embarrassment and feeling confident about kissing their significant others!” says Ms. Beth Truett, President & CEO of Oral Health America.
OHA commends and thanks Senator Cardin for his steadfast leadership and support in improving oral health access across the lifespan. Working alongside other advocates, Oral Health America looks forward to attaining the bipartisan support needed to pass S.22 in Congress.