—Statement by Fred Riccardi, President of the Medicare Rights Center—
New York, NY—The Medicare Rights Center applauds the Biden-Harris administration for improving Medicare coverage of medically necessary dental care, ending a decades-long policy that unnecessarily limited access to life- and health-saving treatment for people with Medicare.
Medicare Part B currently pays for some dental services under very narrow circumstances when that service is integral to medically necessary services needed to treat a beneficiary’s primary medical condition. We have long believed that Medicare has the authority to cover a broader scope of medically necessary care than previously asserted. This final rule is the result of the administration reconsidering its previous position and determining it was too narrowly framed.
Under the new framing, Medicare can pay for dental services under various clinical scenarios, including surgical procedures like cardiac valve replacement, organ transplants, and cancer treatments. The administration is also establishing a process to identify and cover additional dental services that are inextricably linked and substantially related and integral to the clinical success of other covered medical services.
We applaud the administration’s decision and believe that this clarified definition will help mitigate some of the current issues people with Medicare have in accessing needed oral and dental care.
This is a vital step in integrating oral health into whole-body health.