CareQuest Institute Applauds Senate Plan to Strengthen Medicare to Include Oral Health Care Benefit

President and CEO Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan calls Senate action “a step toward fixing this giant gap in how we care for older adults and people with disabilities and a move toward a more equitable health care system for all.”

Boston, Massachusetts, UNITED STATES


Boston, MA, July 14, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

Last night, members of the Senate Budget Committee announced an agreement on an infrastructure package that would, among other things, expand the Medicare program to include an oral health care benefit. The agreement reflects a growing movement among the public and in both chambers of Congress to expand Medicare to include dental, vision, and hearing coverage. 

As a result of the lack of coverage, nearly half of all Medicare beneficiaries didn’t visit a dentist in 2019. Those numbers are even greater for Black, Latino, and low-income Americans. This results in significant unmet dental need and impacts oral and overall health outcomes and spending.

CareQuest Institute for Oral Health CEO and President Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan issued the following statement, applauding the Senate Budget Committee for its inclusion of Medicare dental benefits:

“If we want to end the disparities in health care that have plagued our country for generations, then we must strengthen our Medicare program to include dental coverage. And now is the time to do it.

Dental care is essential health care. Poor oral health has a direct connection to increased risks of chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, and can negatively affect mental health and overall quality of life. Yet millions of older adults and people with disabilities served by the Medicare program don’t have access to this basic and necessary coverage. These adults are disproportionately people of color, low-income Americans, and live in rural communities. 

The Senate Budget Committee’s action is a step toward fixing this giant gap in how we care for our seniors and people with disabilities and a move toward a more equitable health care system for all.”

Why dental coverage in Medicare is critical:

  • Of the 60 million Medicare beneficiaries, more than two-thirds don’t have any dental coverage. 
  • Nearly half of all Medicare patients haven’t visited a dentist within the past year. Those numbers are closer to 70% for Black, Latino, and low-income Americans. One in five rural seniors haven’t seen a dentist in the past five years. 
  • Fifteen percent of older adults — including one in three low-income older adults — have lost all of their teeth.  
  • Poor oral health care has a direct impact on overall health and is associated with increased risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, as well as mental health illnesses. 

 

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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, care delivery, 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. To learn more, visit carequest.org.  

 

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