October 29, 2021
Health equity advocates see President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide dental coverage to those on Medicare, nearly half of whom did not visit a dentist in 2018 — well before the pandemic paused dental appointments for many people. The rates were even higher for Black (68%), Hispanic (61%) and low-income (73%) seniors.
The coverage was left out of a new framework announced by President Joe Biden on Thursday, but proponents still hope they can get the coverage in a final agreement. Further complicating their push is a debate over how many of the nation’s more than 60 million Medicare beneficiaries should receive it.
Advocates of dental coverage for everyone on Medicare find themselves up against an unlikely adversary: the American Dental Association, which is backing an alternative plan that would give dental benefits only to low-income Medicare recipients.