Limited Expansion of Medicare Coverage of Dental Care Could be Coming

Limited Expansion of Medicare Coverage of Dental Care Could be Coming

TSCL has been pushing Congress to include Medicare coverage of dental care because so many seniors do not have dental insurance and good dental care is crucial for overall good health.

Now, according to Kaiser Health News, “Proposed changes in Medicare rules could soon pave the way for a significant expansion in Medicare-covered dental services while falling short of the comprehensive benefits that many Democratic lawmakers have advocated.”

Last year Congressional Democrats made a push to include dental coverage under Medicare in the legislation that lowered prescription drug prices. However, in the end, it did not make it into the final bill.

Under current law, Medicare can pay for limited dental care only if it is medically necessary to safely treat another covered medical condition. For instance, wiring teeth to repair a fractured jaw, a dental exam before a kidney transplant, or extraction of infected teeth before radiation treatment for certain neck and head cancers are covered.

Obviously, that’s very limited coverage and it leaves so many seniors out in the cold when it comes to proper dental care.

The Kaiser Health News report says, “CMS is considering extending coverage to dental services that are ‘inextricably linked’ to the success of other covered medical procedures…. If the proposal is finalized, Medicare Advantage plans would be required to expand coverage as well…. And Medicare supplemental or Medigap policies would have to pay for the patient’s share of the cost.”

While this change would be welcome, clearly it will not go nearly far enough toward the kind of dental coverage needed by seniors.

TSCL will continue to monitor this and report on the new changes whenever they are announced.