Dentistry advocate group strives to fill unmet needs: 6 key notes

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With Medicare rarely covering dental care, America's senior citizen population is becoming an underserved population. A dentistry advocate group is working to change that, Kaiser Health News reports.

Here's what you should know.

1. According to CDC data, one in five people aged 65 years old and older have untreated tooth decay. A study by Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University shows that fewer than half of elderly Americans see dentists annually, and only 12 percent have dental insurance.

2. The dentistry advocate group, Santa Fe (N.M.) Group, is trying to improve access to care.

3. Made up of academics, dental industry executives and former government officials, and sponsored by leading dental companies, the group is trying to create public demand for a Medicare dental benefit in time for the 2020 election.

4. Claude Earl Fox, DDS, a health official in former President Bill Clinton's administration, said to KHN, We have a long road to go, but we think it’s doable and there will be a growing audience for this."

5. According to the Johns Hopkins study, if such a program existed it could cost between $4.4 billion and $16.2 billion depending on the scope of coverage.

6. Medicare last underwent a major expansion in 2006 adding prescription drug coverage after years of advocating.

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