White House faces delays in Medicare dental expansion: 6 things to know

Federal officials are trying to accelerate the adoption of dental benefits under Medicare after CMS officials projected that it could take three to five years to implement, The Washington Post reported Sept. 1.

Here are six things to know:

  1. Federal officials hope legislation is approved this fall as part of the $3.5 trillion budget that would expand dental, vision and hearing coverage under Medicare.
    CMS officials said the vetting process to add dentists to the Medicare program will be lengthy and administratively difficult. It will also need time to create a reimbursement system for dentists under the program.
  2. Congressional Democrats reportedly see the delays as a threat to constituent perks that could help them get reelected. They are working with White House officials and DHS to expedite the process.
  3. A source told The Post that Democrats are working to provide a financial benefit to seniors next year while the formal Medicare benefits are being implemented.
  4. Two possible options include working with private dental companies or establishing a temporary program that would send funds to seniors.
  5. The Congressional Budget Office projected in 2019 that a similar measure to add dental coverage would take five years to implement.
  6. Workforce shortages could also contribute to implementation challenges, as well as recruitment for the program, due to Medicare's expected low reimbursement rates.

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