Children's dental service improvements set to end

AHHAVHA
Sunday, December 7, 2014

No Happy New Year for children's dental care

Public dental services and patients across the county remain in the dark about ongoing access to funding through the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.

The Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS), introduced in January 2014, provides financial support for basic dental services for children aged between 2 and 17 years who receive, or whose family or carer receives selected government benefits such as Family Tax Benefit Part A. Approximately 3.4 million children are eligible for the scheme which provides benefits of up to $1000 over two years.

The CDBS benefit can currently be used to access oral health care in either the private or public sector, however in line with Schedule 2 of the Dental Benefits Rules 2013, access through public sector services will cease from 31 December 2014.

“When the Child Dental Benefits Schedule was introduced in January, it was accepted that there would effectively be a twelve month trial in the public sector.  We are now a month away from the scheme being withdrawn from the public sector and there is no indication of how the trial will be evaluated and what the situation will be in 2015,” said AHHA Chief Executive Ms Alison Verhoeven.

“States and territories have been required to maintain their existing effort in terms of providing dental services so the revenue from the CDBS has gone to expanding and enhancing services.  The future of those improved services is clearly under threat.”

“Waiting lists for dental services have been reduced significantly across the country over the past year but the combination of the delayed implementation of the National Partnership for Adult Public Dental Services with the cessation of public sector access to the CDBS means that those improvements are likely to be short lived.”

“In order to support continued improvements in the oral health of vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians it is essential that the Government commits to the full implementation of the National Partnership for Adult Public Dental Services and to ongoing access to the CDBS through the public sector.”

“The CDBS has enabled Victorian public dental providers to treat tens of thousands of additional children over the last 12 months.  The threat to this funding puts all of that at risk.  Along with the long-promised, but yet to materialise, Adult Dental NPA this threatens to be a damaging double-whammy to public dental services,” said Mr Tom Symondson, Acting Chief Executive of the Victorian Healthcare Association.

“In order to support continued improvements in the oral health of vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians it is essential that the Minister commits to the full implementation of the National Partnership for Adult Public Dental Services and to ongoing access to the CDBS through the public sector.”

Oral conditions are the second most expensive disease group to treat in Australia, with only cardiovascular disease costing more.  Oral conditions are also responsible for more than 60,000 preventable hospital admissions every year of which around half are young children.

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

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