Consensus Statements

Please see below to learn more about the Santa Fe Group’s participation in a variety of important consensus, position and call to action statements, which underscore our mission as a neutral convener, connector and communicator to help catalyze change for the public good.

Community Statement on Medicare Coverage for Medically Necessary Oral and Dental Health Therapies

The undersigned organizations are proud to join in support of Medicare coverage for medically-necessary oral/dental health therapies.

It is well established that chronic diseases disproportionately impact Medicare beneficiaries and impose a substantial cost on the federal government. It is also well established that untreated oral microbial infections are closely linked to a wide range of costly chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and stroke. In addition, oral diseases have been documented by researchers and medical specialty societies as precluding, delaying, and even jeopardizing medical treatments such as organ and stem cell transplantation, heart valve repair or replacement, cancer chemotherapies, placement of orthopedic prostheses, and management of autoimmune diseases.

Despite these factors, most Medicare beneficiaries do not currently receive oral/dental care even when medically necessary for the treatment of Medicare-covered diseases. In fact, Medicare coverage extends to the treatment of all microbial infections except for those relating to the teeth and periodontium. There is simply no medical justification for this exclusion, especially in light of the broad agreement among medical specialists that such care is integral to the medical management of numerous diseases and medical conditions. Moreover, the lack of medically necessary oral/dental care heightens the risk of costly medical complications, increasing the financial burden on Medicare, beneficiaries, and taxpayers.

Some Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are providing coverage of medically necessary periodontal treatment to targeted enrollees with diabetes, heart disease or stroke. This is an important step forward, and medically necessary oral/dental healthcare including periodontal treatment should be provided in traditional Medicare as well. According to some reports, such plans have realized important benefits from oral/dental health coverage, including markedly lower hospitalization and emergency department admission rates as well as substantial cost reductions.

The Medicare program and all its beneficiaries should not be without the vital clinical and fiscal benefits of coverage for medically necessary oral/dental health therapies. Given the significant potential to improve health outcomes and reduce program costs, we urge Congress and the Administration to explore options, including utilization of existing authority, for extending such evidence-based coverage for all Medicare beneficiaries.

Consensus Partners:

Position Statement on Oral-Systemic Health

After decades of research and thousands of scientific papers, the relationships between oral health, especially periodontal health, and systemic health are well known. Moreover, during the past ten years, data analysis by health economists, and public statements and actions by several large, private dental insurers have identified additional benefits of oral health by revealing that insured individuals who receive treatment for periodontal disease show fewer hospitalizations and reduced cost of care for a number of systemic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

Therefore, the Santa Fe Group has concluded that sufficient evidence now exists that periodontal disease is a contributory cause to certain systemic diseases, and the public should benefit from this knowledge. Therefore, Medicare, Medicaid, and other public and private health insurance programs should incorporate oral health benefits as a component of comprehensive health insurance. These health benefits will not only improve oral health for its own sake, including speech, mastication and social acceptance, but will also produce substantial economic benefits and total health improvement for the public.

Community Statement on Legislation to Ensure Access to Care in Crisis
COVID-19 - A Call to Action to the Dental Profession

In our 25-year history as an action-oriented, nonprofit think tank, passionate about improving lives through oral health, the volunteer members of the Santa Fe Group have never experienced anything like the COVID-19 pandemic. We share in the nation’s collective shock and grief as every hour brings news about rising health care systems demands, critical stay at home orders, new cases, and deaths. We also marvel at the extensive work of our dental colleagues who fight under unprecedented conditions for ways to address emergency oral health services.

Therefore, as part of our well-established mission to connect, convene and communicate with healthcare professionals to help catalyze change, we ask you to consider two important endeavors:

Addressing Response and Recovery:
Currently, the Santa Fe Group is working with our partners to develop a thoughtful plan, including appropriate testing protocols and in-office mitigation techniques, to win patient confidence and help bring back the practice of dentistry. Also, the Santa Fe Group will work with other organizations to develop a comprehensive consensus statement and white paper on the role of dentistry in the COVID-19 response that takes into account all phases, including preparing for the second wave and facilitating with future testing and vaccine administration. If you are interested in keeping abreast of these efforts, please send your email/contact information to:

Answering the Call to Volunteer:
Although the entire dental enterprise and dental professionals are experiencing tremendous volatility, we must not overlook dental team members’ much needed skills to support both the public health and clinical care needs while we collectively work to return to practice. Given the urgency of the moment to save lives and contribute to this stage of the response, we call upon the dental profession and the entire dental enterprise to consider joining us in an effort to contribute to the COVID-19 crisis through volunteering.   Needed services are diverse, vary geographically and include support for contact tracing, hotline management, health education, triage and screening services, provision of consultations for oral problems, and much more. Should you wish to join in this effort, please see below for helpful links and resources.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will be long lasting and its imprint on all health professions will be profound. However, right now the passing minutes are too precious to waste. We call on you to use your time and your critical skills to help make a difference.

With gratitude and support,
The Volunteer Members of the Santa Fe Group



  • Go to the Medical Reserve Corps site to learn more and access your local unit: Medical Reserve Corps
  • Contact your local hospital or your State’s hospital association, or try: Health Guide USA Hospital Associations
  • Access the Emergency System for Advanced Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP) to preregister as a volunteer health professional. ESAR-VHP