Dental Coverage for Medicare: Supporting Vulnerable Patients | MouthHealthy - Oral Health Information from the ADA

Dental Coverage for Medicare: Supporting Vulnerable Patients

A dentist with a patient.

We urge Congress to prioritize expanding dental benefits for low-income seniors who need them most.

Congress must prioritize a Medicare dental program that best serves our most vulnerable populations and ensures sustainability for generations to come. We simply cannot afford an unsustainable program that low-income seniors can’t afford and leads to ineffectiveness, unpredictability and uncertainty in their health and in their dental coverage.

What is the proposal under consideration by Congress?

Congress is proposing that Medicare expand dental benefits for all seniors, including the wealthiest Americans, instead of focusing on affordable access to comprehensive dental benefits for those who need it most. We must do better for patients — and the ADA is demanding more on behalf of low-income seniors.

What is the ADA’s position regarding the proposed Medicare dental benefit?

We agree that dental benefits should be included in safety net programs. Oral health is essential, and it has been overlooked consistently in health care policy as a fundamental part of one’s health and wellbeing.

The solution we need from Congress to address oral health equity should prioritize vulnerable and at-risk communities. The current Medicare proposal does not serve vulnerable seniors well, and that is why the ADA supports an alternative plan that helps seniors who are most in need.

What does the ADA propose as an alternative?

We believe an expansion of Medicare benefits should make health equity a priority by including an affordable comprehensive dental benefit that meets the needs of patients up to 300% of the federal poverty level (FPL), a disproportionate number of whom are minorities.

To reshape the social safety net adequately to include dental care, Congress must thoughtfully consider the unique needs of the most vulnerable seniors and prioritize the sustainability and reliability of the program to adequately serve its patients. That includes the ability of the program to function without unnecessary and complicated administration and bureaucracy that limits patients’ ability to use their coverage and afford care.