Australian Senate should restore child dental funding

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

‘The Australian Senate has an opportunity to work together and restore public dental funding for Australian children’, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association acting Chief Executive Dr Linc Thurecht said today.

‘While we welcomed the government’s 15 December 2016 commitment to continue public funding for child dental health through the Child Dental Benefits Schedule, we did not welcome the government cutting funding from Medicare funded child dental care.

‘The government’s proposed $300 cut per eligible child reduces the amount of dental care the schedule provides over two years to $700 per child rather than $1,000 per child.

‘The government’s own figures show that for about 1 in 5 children using the schedule more than $700 per year is being spent.

‘In many cases, children most affected by the reduction in funding will be those with the greatest dental need.

The National Oral Health Alliance has done some modelling of costs which shows that over a two-year period children are likely to need:

·         between $410 and $460 of care if at low risk of dental caries

·         between $758 and $1123 of care if at moderate risk , and

·         up to $2050 worth if in the highest 10% need group.

‘The $700 cap will not provide enough care for children with either moderate or high need’, said Dr Thurecht.

‘Funding has never been generous for public dental health, so we call on the Senate to restore public dental funding for Australian children most in need—often from families least able to afford it.

‘Restoring public dental funding will help parents provide needed care for their children rather than delaying treatment because of a lack of money.

‘Investing in children’s dental care is a valuable investment in the next generation’s oral health. Good oral health is fundamental to health, wellbeing and quality of life. A healthy mouth enables people to eat, speak and socialise without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.’

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, community and primary healthcare services, and advocates for universal, high quality and affordable healthcare to benefit the whole community.

For more information on AHHA, visit http://ahha.asn.au.

Media enquiries: Dr Linc Thurecht, Acting Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, 0401 393 729