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Viral Post Makes False Claim About Medicare Coverage of Dental Work

Viral Post Makes False Claim About Medicare Coverage of Dental Work

Quick Take

Democrats tried but failed to expand Medicare coverage to include dental benefits in the Build Back Better bill. Yet a Facebook post tells seniors they have until Jan. 31 to apply for “free dental work” under a recently announced Medicare “stimulus.” There is no such program, and Medicare doesn’t cover dental work except in rare circumstances.


Full Story

Medicare covers many medical procedures, but dental work, except in rare cases, is not among them.

Democrats wanted to include dental, hearing and vision coverage in an expansion of Medicare as part of the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act. But it was among the elements opposed by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who, along with Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, blocked passage of the legislation.

Still, a Facebook post — which includes a video that has been viewed 1.3 million times — falsely claims that President Joe Biden has announced “Medicare stimulus that provides free dental work to all Seniors who need it!”

The post by a Facebook page called Latest Medicare says crowns and implants are included and that seniors have until Jan. 31 to enroll.

But there is no such program or enrollment period, a spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, told us in an email.

“By law, Medicare cannot cover most dental care, dental procedures, or supplies, like cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, dentures, dental plates, or other dental devices,” the spokesperson for the federal agency said.

The legislation creating Medicare in 1965 excluded all dental coverage, but Congress amended the measure in 1980 to provide coverage when the dental procedure itself required hospitalization. That could include jaw reconstruction following an accidental injury or extractions done to prepare for radiation treatment for a tumor in the jaw, according to the CMS spokesperson.

Medicare recipients may obtain dental coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan offered by private insurers.

Sites like the one that posted the Facebook claim “are definitely of concern,” Matthew Shepard, communications director for the nonprofit Center for Medicare Advocacy, said in an email to us. “[G]enerally, they are, at best, an attempt to funnel people to private Medicare plans, which often don’t actually meet their health care needs.”

Latest Medicare’s Facebook page lists a website under “additional contact info” that promotes Medicare Advantage plans.

The false post includes a split-screen video showing an animation of a dental implant procedure on the right and then-presidential candidate Joe Biden on the left delivering a speech in June 2020 calling for an expansion of Medicare. Biden makes no mention of dental care in the clip.

There was no response to our message sent to Latest Medicare inquiring about the post.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.

Sources

“Biden Delivers Remarks on Health Care.” NBC News. 25 Jun 2020.

Bolton, Alexander. “Manchin shutting down Sanders on Medicare expansion.” The Hill. 25 Oct 2021.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Email to FactCheck.org. 24 Jan 2022.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Your Medicaid Coverage: Is my test, service or item covered?” Medicare.gov. Accessed 24 Jan 2022.

Lillis, Mike. “Hoyer says ‘significant’ version of Build Back Better will pass this year.” The Hill. 25 Jan 2022.

Medicare.gov. Medicare Advantage Plans. Accessed 26 Jan 2022.

Medicare.gov. “What Medicare covers.” Accessed 26 Jan 2022.

Reinicke, Carmen. “Medicare expansion hangs in the balance as Democrats race towards a deal.” CNBC. 27 Oct 2021.

Senate.gov. “Medicare Signed into Law.” Accessed 26 Jan 2022.

Shepard, Matthew, communications director for the Center for Medicare Advocacy. Email to FactCheck.org. 26 Jan 2022.

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