Legislation Introduced to Expand Medicare to Include Dental Benefits

  • by AGD Washington Advocacy Representative
  • Feb 4, 2021
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Representative Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA) introduced the Medicare Dental Benefit Act of 2021 (S.97/H.R.502)(text) on January 28. The bill would expand Medicare Part B coverage to include dental and oral health services necessary to prevent disease and promote oral health, restore oral structures to health and function, and treat emergency conditions. 

Provisions in this legislation will likely be debated within contentious discussions surrounding “Medicare for All” and healthcare system reform legislation. A Democratic-controlled Congress means that there will be frequent hearings and proposals related to the future of healthcare coverage in the U.S.

The House passed similar legislative provisions to those in the Medicare Dental Benefit Act in late 2019 via a Democratic-supported drug price negotiation bill H.R.3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act. The legislation did not receive bipartisan support at that time, and slim Democratic seat-majorities in the House and Senate will be a significant hurdle to passing partisan legislation in the current Congress.

Impact on General Dentistry: AGD supports enhanced benefits and reimbursement in private sector initiatives for dental benefits while remaining opposed to Medicare’s expansion to include dental benefits. AGD believes that the Medicare program cannot sustain the inclusion of dental benefits.