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Dental Professor to Congress: Oral Health is Vital

Dr. Burton Edelstein (Photo courtesy of the Senate HELP Committee)
Dr. Burton Edelstein (Photo courtesy of the Senate HELP Committee)

Letting Medicaid, Medicare and other health insurance programs exclude coverage for teeth is as foolish as letting the programs exclude coverage for arms, legs or other body parts, Dr. Burton Edelstein testified today in Washington.

Edelstein, a professor of dentistry and health policy at Columbia University, appeared at a hearing on the state of U.S. dental care that was organized by the primary health and aging subcommittee at the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

Congress has treated dental coverage as an optional Medicaid benefit for adults, and dental coverage is absent from the Medicare program, Edelstein said.

"As a result of the Medicare exclusion of dental coverage, millions of baby boomers will be moving out of employer-sponsored dental coverage that they have enjoyed for decades and into no dental coverage at all," Edelstein said. "Unlike many of their predecessors, they have benefited from dental care and have retained their teeth. They will need ongoing and regular basic primary dental care which is increasingly priced out of reach for the uninsured."

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