As Australians wait for the federal budget to be announced, Health Minister Sussan Ley reveals that people can expect a revamped dental scheme that will reach children and low income adults.
This initiative is expected to give more than 10 million Aussies accessibility to public dental services through a single five-year agreement states Sydney Morning Herald. These include around 5.3 million children under 18 years and 5 million adults with Commonwealth concession cards.
Huffington Post Australia explains that opposition leader Bill Shorten has criticised the scheme. Shorten believes that it will put kids on public waiting lists. “The idea that you improve the dental health of children by cutting $1 billion and making all the children of Australia have to go through public waiting lists to get dental care support from the government is a dental care hoax,” said Shorten.
Even the Australian Dental Association has dubbed it as smoke and mirrors states Sky News. “Let’s see this for what it is. This is a ‘budget saving’ that results in a reduction of about $200m per annum for dental care,” said Rick Olive, ADA President. “Let’s not be fooled. This is a measure that just won’t deliver,” he added.
Minister Ley elaborated that the government plans to create national efficient prices for the procedures. These will be similar to those used for hospital funding. She added that states will retain flexibility to contract private dentists in case of services gaps.
The government will also support patients through various means. These include private health rebate, Medicare-funded in-hospital services, and the infrastructure in rural and remote Australia.
“We are a Government taking a balanced approach to funding access to dental services in a bid to stop people falling through the cracks,” Ms Ley said in a statement. “This is reflective of our broader integrated approach to health reform, particularly when it comes to improving patient outcomes for the chronically ill, with poor oral health one of the top chronic diseases facing Australians alongside heart disease, cancer and diabetes,” she added.