Statewide Survey Finds Broad, Bipartisan Support for Medicare Dental Coverage in West Virginia

A new survey shows more than three-quarters of West Virginia voters favor adding dental coverage to Medicare.

Boston, Massachusetts, UNITED STATES


CHARLESTON, WV, Aug. 04, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- West Virginians across the political spectrum are ready for Medicare dental coverage. A new YouGov survey found that an overwhelming majority of likely midterm voters in West Virginia – including 73% of conservative voters – favor adding dental benefits to Medicare.

Almost eight in 10 West Virginia voters surveyed in July support adding dental coverage to Medicare as proposed in the $3.5 trillion budget plan introduced in the Senate. Over nine in 10 respondents believe dental care is a necessary part of overall health care and about half of respondents hold their members of Congress responsible for the current lack of coverage. A further 67% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats in West Virginia believe their legislators should prioritize Medicare dental coverage. 

“West Virginians pride ourselves on knowing what’s best for our community,” said West Virginia Oral Health Coalition Coordinator Gina Sharps. “Our residents work hard and contribute to Medicare for decades. Our political leadership should ensure they receive the full benefits they deserve, including oral health coverage.”

The survey also revealed the human and social cost of inaction: 60% of respondents aged 65 or higher reported avoiding necessary dental visits due to cost. Emergency dental visits for preventable oral health conditions cost the U.S. health system an estimated $2 billion per year. 

“Oral health coverage is critical for preventing serious health problems, from cardiovascular disease to diabetes.” said Ifetayo Johnson, Executive Director of the Oral Health Progress and Equity Network (OPEN). “Strengthening Medicare by adding dental coverage for all is an important step in advancing health equity for older Americans, people living with disabilities, communities of color, tribal communities, and those living in rural areas. No West Virginian should have to forgo necessary health care because it is unaffordable.”

The YouGov poll was conducted on July 7-19, 2021 among a representative sample of 404 likely 2022 midterm voters in West Virginia. The margin of error is +/- 5.8%. The poll was commissioned by CareQuest Institute for Oral Health, Families USA, and the Oral Health Progress and Equity Network (OPEN), a group of organizations dedicated to strengthening access to the oral health coverage needed to keep Americans healthy.

 

About Medicare Dental Coverage

Medicare does not currently include coverage for dental health services as a standard benefit. Of the 60 million older adults and individuals with disabilities who receive Medicare benefits, 67% of them -- 37 million -- do not have dental coverage. Lower-income adults and people of color are overrepresented in this group. Poor oral health is linked with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and pneumonia, the risk of which increases among older adults. 

 

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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.  

 

About Families USA
Families USA, a leading national voice for health care consumers, is dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care and improved health for all. 

 

About Oral Health Progress and Equity Network (OPEN)

Over the last decade, OPEN has emerged from a nationwide conversation among policymakers, providers, public health activists, and grassroots organizers who acknowledge that the system of healthcare we have in place today is not working for people’s overall health and well-being, and that it’s time to work together to build a new reality. OPEN has taken a network building approach to changing the oral health system by engaging health equity advocates, community-based organizations, providers, clinicians, policy makers, and health justice organizers to build alignment and coordinate efforts toward realizing a shared vision, as well as achieving articulated goals and targets.

 

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