A poor Christmas for people relying on public dental services

Thursday, December 15, 2016

‘Public dental services are set to be severely compromised thanks to the Commonwealth Government’s slashing of funding for public dental health services for the next three years’, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said today.

Ms Verhoeven was responding to today’s announcement by the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Sussan Ley, on public dental funding beyond 1 January 2017.

‘It’s harsh and particularly heartless that the government has seen fit to compromise the dental health of those Australians least able to afford proper dental care’, Ms Verhoeven said.

‘Today’s announcement provides a fortnight’s notice to the states and territories of a massive cut to public dental funding—down to less than $107 million per year for the next three years for adult public dental health services.

‘The original Budget measure in 2013–14 promised $391 million in 2016–17’, Ms Verhoeven said.

‘This has been reduced since then to about $155 million in calendar year 2016.

‘Now it’s down to less than $107 million per year. This will result in as many as 338,000 people losing access to public dental services from next year.

‘We welcome that the government has committed to continue public funding for child dental health through the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.

‘But we do not welcome that funding per child is to be reduced over two years with a cap of $700 per child over two years (previously $1,000 per child over two years).

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

‘So, from now on their parents will have to find the extra money. For many the only viable alternative will be not to have the treatment needed.

‘How little the government must think of these kids—or care.

‘Funding has never been generous for public dental health—but now we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel both in terms of dollars and in terms of care.’

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: Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, 0403 282 501