DPC submitted a comment letter applauding the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for its announcement that it will cover dental work for kidney transplant candidates when oral health issues are a barrier to transplant surgery. “This proposal is an important recognition and clarification of CMS’s existing authority, which will help to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries can access and afford more of the dental care they need to advance their health,” DPC said.
CMS also asked whether there are “types of surgery, or clinical scenarios involving acute or chronic conditions that would have an improved patient outcome if certain dental services are furnished.” DPC responded that “Kidney failure plays havoc with dialysis patients’ mouths and teeth. Nephrologists report that many access site and bloodstream infections result from oral origins. Further, dental problems can make it difficult for patients to get proper nutrition or to chew phosphate binders, and can impact hemoglobin levels. In short, there are additional clinical scenarios in which dental care for dialysis patients is analogous to foot care for diabetic patients and ought to be covered. We strongly urge CMS to review the applicable literature and consult with experts to develop guidelines for covering necessary dental treatment for those dialysis patients who are likely to experience complications of their kidney disease in its absence.”