Dear [colleagues, patients, friends],
I am writing to urge you to join me in fighting to strengthen Medicare for our nation’s older adults and people with disabilities by adding comprehensive dental coverage to the program.
Health care, including oral health care, is a key determinant of economic stability, social connectedness, and overall wellness. Poor oral health leads to poor overall health outcomes and higher health care costs, especially for those with chronic diseases, mental illness, and other conditions that impact us as we age. And yet, our health care system has made it nearly impossible for Medicare beneficiaries to access the essential oral health care they need.
The lack of an oral health benefit in Medicare means that more than 24 million older adults and people with disabilities do not have dental coverage. These are disproportionately Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and other people of color, those with disabilities, and those living in rural communities who are left without access to the affordable care they need to maintain overall health. In fact, in the last year, 7 out of 10 Black Medicare beneficiaries and 6 out of 10 Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries did not see a dentist, and 20% of rural seniors have not seen a dentist in more than five years.
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