In 1965 President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Medicare Act which provided healthcare for the elderly. This was a great step in President Johnson’s Great Society program that was aimed to institute federally sponsored social welfare programs. In fact, the first recipient of Medicare was President Harry Truman, but in 2018 we are facing a very serious issue between Medicare and our oral health. In an article printed by the New York Times entitled Medicare Doesn’t Equal Dental Care, That Can Be a Big Problem, Austin Frankt sheds light on the issue that “half of Medicare beneficiaries have some periodontal disease, or infection of structures around teeth, including the gums. As pointed out by Frankt, Medicare unfortunately does not cover dental checkups or even more important procedures such as fillings and tooth extractions.
It is also no secret that the elderly in America are currently living on fixed incomes. According to the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation approximately “half of all Medicare beneficiaries had incomes below $26,200 in per person in 2016.” Therefore, we are seeing an alarming number of Americans who do not receive any dental care at all due to the lack of coverage provided by Medicare. As more Americans are becoming more aware of this fact the support for providing expanded dental care with Medicare is becoming more popular. A Families USA survey revealed that “of likely voters found that the vast majority (86 percent)” support providing greater dental coverage for those who receive Medicare.
This issue should not be highlighted by right or left wing politics, but rather it should be viewed as an elder care matter that we all need to solve. The first recipient of Medicare, Harry S. Truman, highlighted the importance of Medicare when he told Americans,”there are men and women in pain who will now find ease. There are those, alone in suffering who will now hear the sound of some approaching footsteps coming to help. There are those fearing the terrible darkness of despairing poverty–despite their long years of labor and expectation–who will now look up to see the light of hope and realization.” It may be difficult to convince those in Washington D.C. to amend our current Medicare situation, but as Harry S. Truman revealed to us millions in America will be forever grateful.