Congressman Cohen Introduces the Medicare Medically Necessary Dental Care Act
WASHINGTON -- Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-9) this morning introduced the Medicare Medically Necessary Dental Care Act, legislation that would give Medicare patients facing certain ailments or preparing for certain surgical procedures the dental coverage they need.
“Good dental health is necessary for a good quality of life,” said Congressman Cohen. “The Medicare Medically Necessary Dental Care Act would provide Medicare patients the coverage they need to be physically prepared to undergo serious medical procedures.”
The measure would provide coverage under Medicare part B for medically necessary dental procedures in conjunction with treatment of patients requiring prosthetic heart valve replacement and organ transplantation or the diagnoses of cancer of the head or neck, lymphoma, and leukemia.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: “More than one-third of people treated for cancer develop complications that affect the mouth. These problems may interfere with cancer treatment and diminish the patient’s quality of life.” For example, head and neck radiation and chemotherapy can cause oral complications including infections. A simple infection in the mouth can often lead to a full-blown infections that can lead to organ rejection or even death.
Since its inception, the Medicare program has strictly excluded coverage for dental services. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved coverage exceptions for limited dental services and has proposed additional exceptions based on the argument that oral health services would reduce the risk of infection and complications of medical care.