Bipartisan Bill Could Improve Oral Health Care Among U.S. Seniors

Published: Thursday, December 6, 2018 - 3:06pm
Updated: Friday, December 7, 2018 - 10:08am
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Earlier in 2018, KJZZ reported that some seniors who live in long-term care facilities are not getting their oral healthcare needs met. But an act of Congress could change that.

The Action for Dental Health Act of 2018 is now on President Donald Trump’s desk. Once signed, the Centers for Disease Control will set the grant award structure.

"And then state and local health departments and nonprofits qualify for the funding, and tribal governments as well, to put together interesting and new approaches to solving some of the oral health problems that we have in the state," said Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association.

Humble said oral healthcare is often left off the table and that’s reflected in the funding of it. And dentistry is expensive.

So, how could this measure help older Arizonans?

"Here in Arizona, there is coverage under our Arizona long-term care system, but there’s a $1,000 cap on the availability of dollars, things that can be paid for under that program," said Kevin Earle, executive director of the Arizona Dental Association. "So we could possibly conceive of something that would provide more extensive care for folks that fall in that category."

Medicare doesn't include a dental benefit, so many seniors will go without unless they purchase a Medicare Advantage plan or supplement dental insurance.

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