The ADA wants to see a more targeted alternative to expand access to oral healthcare for low-income seniors rather than the current plans to expand Medicare Part B.
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce advanced a provision to the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package that includes an expansion of Medicare that provides dental, vision, and hearing benefits.
The American Dental Association (ADA) has opposed the proposal, which would add dental benefits to Medicare by 2028. The ADA has instead thrown its support behind a more targeted alternative to expand access to oral healthcare for low-income seniors.
The ADA proposal would include services aimed at offering oral health benefits for seniors with incomes of up to 300% of the federal poverty level, or $79,500 annually.
Some lawmakers have expressed concerns about the committee’s decision to advance the proposal, including Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore, who voted against it. Schrader said he was concerned about adding additional services to Medicare with the looming prospect of the program’s insolvency by 2026 unless Congress addresses it.
“We’ve sort of forgotten that fact,” said Schrader. “I think there’s a better alternative out there to provide dental benefits that seniors can actually afford.”
Schrader supports the ADA alternative proposal, which he said could be available to seniors in only 2 to 3 years instead of the 7 years of the current plan. The ADA proposal also calls for any Medicare dental benefit to have sufficient funding and be administered efficiently to ensure access to care.
Now that the bill is through the House Ways and Means Committee, it will move to the House Budget Committee and Rules Committee before heading to the floor for a vote. The ADA continues to urge all dental professionals to contact their members of Congress to oppose the proposed legislation. The American Association of Orthodontists has asked its members to reach out to their members of Congress as well in support of the ADA’s position.