Government’s commitment to dental health full of holes

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

 

Government’s commitment to dental health full of holes

12 May 2015

 

The Government’s earlier announcement of a commitment to dental reform must be questioned following further cuts to revealed in tonight’s Budget.

Prior to the 2013 election the Coalition pledged to “…honour the arrangements under the National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Adult Public Dental Services…”

“The NPA was intended to deliver $1.3 billion over four years starting from 1 July last year. But so far the Coalition’s pledge has amounted to a 12 month delay, a nearly 25% cut to the 2015-16 allocation from $200 million to $155 million and the wiping of the remaining $1.15 billion from the forward estimates.” says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive, Alison Verhoeven.

“Public sector access to the Child Dental Benefits Schedule has been extended, but it comes with a four year freeze on indexation of both benefits payable and the benefits cap.  This has the potential to increase the copayments charged in the private sector which will drive additional patients to the public sector where bulk-billing is compulsory.

“The Government will also cease funding for the Voluntary Dental Graduate Year Program and the Voluntary Oral Health Therapist Program which target workforce shortages in rural and remote areas.  According to the Department of Health these programs have failed to deliver but no details of any evaluation of the programs have been made publically available.

“The Minister has highlighted a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for constructive reform… to achieve a better integrated system with services working in co-operation”.  Starting the reform process by stripping over $1 billion funding from dental services providing care to the most vulnerable in our society and in under serviced areas is not a good way to begin,” says Ms Verhoeven.

“The AHHA will gladly support meaningful efforts to improve access to oral health services but we are wary of what the future holds after these announcements.”

 

The AHHA represents Australia’s largest group of health care providers in public hospitals, community and primary health sectors and advocates for universal high quality healthcare to benefit the whole community.

 

Media enquiries:  Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, 0403 282 501

 

 
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