Return of $1,000 child dental benefit cap welcome—but what about the adults?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

‘We welcome the decision by the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, to restore the $1,000 dental funding cap for Australian children’, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association acting Chief Executive Dr Linc Thurecht said today.

‘Last December the government reduced the 2-year maximum amount claimable per child under the Child Dental Benefit Scheme from $1,000 to $700.

‘Along with colleagues at the National Oral Health Alliance and the Australian Dental Association, we argued strongly that the children most affected by the reduction in funding would be those with the greatest dental need, and we were pleased to see members of the Senate yesterday give notice of motion to disallow the cut.

‘Modelling by the National Oral Health Alliance showed that children in the top 10% highest need group would be likely to need up to $2,050 worth of dental work over two years, and children at moderate risk would need up to $1,123 worth of work.

‘Minister Hunt’s decision will help parents to continue to provide needed dental care for their children rather than delaying treatment because of a lack of money.

‘Also, attending to problems early will help reduce dental care needs and costs for these children in the longer term.

‘Early intervention is a principle of prevention, which the Turnbull government has stated will be an area of focus in government health policy in 2017’, Dr Thurecht said.

‘The government now needs to apply the same principle to adult public dental health services.

‘Last December the government provided less than a fortnight’s notice to the states and territories of a significant cut to public dental funding—from $155 million in calendar year 2016 down to less than $107 million per year for the next three years.

‘This will result in many Australian adults putting off needed treatment because they cannot afford it, which will lead to more severe problems later on.

‘This is preventive health in reverse. We urge the government to be true to its stated focus on preventive health so that Australian adults who can least afford dental care can receive it.’

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.

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