Advocating for Medically Necessary Dental Care under the Medicare Program

Many people are unaware that the Medicare program does not cover oral health care. When people turn age 65, they must be able to afford dental insurance to pay for services. For the millions of older adults who cannot afford dental insurance, they must pay out-of-pocket for dental care or go without care. Medically necessary dental care refers to treatment deemed necessary by a physician when a patient’s medical condition or treatment is or will likely be complicated by an untreated oral health problem, such as someone who needs to be treated for an oral infection before they can have a kidney transplant.

In October 2018, national advocacy organizations asked members of Congress to sign a “Letter on Medically Necessary Dental Care” addressing this issue. The letter requested that the Center for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) use their administrative authority to allow coverage for medically necessary dental care under the Medicare program. Oral Health Ohio put out a call to action to its membership to urge their members of congress to sign the letter. Oral Health Ohio also reached out to key Ohio members of Congress to sign the letter. National advocates are meeting with CMS in November as a follow-up to the letter. Stay tuned for updates!

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