Minister reconsiders cap changes for children's dentistry, but is it enough?

Friday, 10 February, 2017

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) applauds the announcement made by the Turnbull government and its Health Minister, the Hon. Greg Hunt, to reinstate the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) cap to $1000.

“Following discussions between the Minister Hunt and the association yesterday, the Minister has acted decisively. He is putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to supporting the CDBS, which is strong investment in early intervention for children’s dental health,” ADA President Dr Hugo Sachs said.

“This is a terrific outcome. Today’s announcement is an example of how the Senate and the Australian Government have combined to support policy that has been proven to help these children access the care they need.

“We look forward to talking further with the Minister Hunt to identify how the scheme can be better promoted in light of this decision.”

Two government reviews have confirmed the scheme is working to provide children in low-income families access dental care but better promotional activities is the missing piece of the puzzle to ensure that more of the 3.4 million eligible children can receive the CDBS’s benefits.

The CDBS is a targeted scheme that will play a significant role in stopping the growing trend in recent years that has seen 4 out of 10 children aged 5–10 and 3 out of 10 children aged 9–14 having decay in their baby and permanent teeth respectively.

Dr Sachs continued, “The ADA would like to congratulate Minister Hunt and those Senators that supported the move to reinstate the cap so that children from low-income families can get the dental care they need.”

But according to Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association acting Chief Executive Dr Linc Thurecht, the $1000 cap does not go far enough.

“The government now needs to apply the same principle to adult public dental health services,” Dr Thurecht said.

“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,” Dr Thurecht concluded.

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