10:58 AM

Dental Coverage has Bipartisan Support among Voters

As the new Trump Administration and Republican Congress begin their work this month, they will have the opportunity to advance conservative priorities through major legislative changes. At the top of their list is repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which will have implications for the dental health and overall health of many Americans.

ACA replacement proposals from President-elect Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan, and the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services Rep. Tom Price should signal major changes forthcoming to the health care industry.

The ACA’s Medicaid expansion, essential health benefits, and exchange provisions have increased access to dental care for both children and adults. While the future of these elements is uncertain, we at DentaQuest want to ensure that replacement proposals do not jeopardize this important access to oral health. We’ve made great strides in eliminating barriers to dental coverage for millions of Americans who gained access through the ACA.

As policymakers consider different replacement plans, the role of oral health must remain a priority.

In a recent survey of 2,000 registered U.S. voters conducted by DentaQuest via Morning Consult, the inclusion of dental coverage in public programs received widespread support from voters of both parties.

The survey showed that:

  • 83 percent of respondents think dental coverage should be a part of Medicare
    • 83 percent of Republicans agree
    • 86 percent of Democrats agree
    • 81 percent of Independents agree
  • 73 percent of respondents believe dental coverage should be a required benefit in Medicaid
    • 64 percent of Republicans agree
    • 82 percent of Democrats agree
    • 71 percent of Independents agree

Dental coverage is not currently included in Medicare, nor is it a required benefit for adults in Medicaid. A full repeal of the ACA could compound oral health access issues by eliminating Medicaid expansion and the exchanges— two important sources of affordable dental coverage.

Research continues to show a connection between oral and overall health. Dental coverage is a critical first step to improve both oral and overall health outcomes, reduce persistent health disparities, and contain systemic costs.

As policymakers seek to improve our existing health care system, oral health must be a part of the solution.

It is clear: Dental coverage has demonstrated itself to be a bipartisan priority for the American public. As we enter a 2017 legislative session with significant health care policy changes on the agenda, dental coverage must also remain a priority for Congress.

The full survey conducted by DentaQuest and Morning Consult will be released in 2017.