ADA pleads for Access

Dr Shane Fryer says the ADA plan is the best one for the next stage of dental reform.

As the Opposition admitted this week it will not oppose Labor’s legislation to start a new dental scheme, the ADA has revisited its DentalAccess proposal as a suggestion for future public dental plans. On Wednesday, as debate continued on the government’s bill, a newspaper reported Opposition health spokesman Greg Hunt said the coalition would not oppose the new scheme’s establishment.

An opposition bid to stop the government winding up the chronic disease scheme failed on Tuesday. Around the same time, ADA President Dr Shane Fryer put out a press release saying, “As parliamentarians continue to debate closure of the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme, the Australian Dental Association Inc. (ADA) calls on members of parliament to listen to the dental profession when it comes to creating the solution to dental care delivery.”

While the ADA has always expressed lukewarm support for the CDDS, Dr Fryer says it was still “like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut”.

There has been a last-ditch attempt to save the Medicare scheme, primarily because of the gap between the closure of that scheme and the start of the next. The next problem, Dr Fryer says, is the 2012/13 Federal Budget will provide about $225 million for dental health over the latter half of the 2012/13 year and the following year, but even if waiting lists are reduced by 30 per cent, the National Advisory Council on Dental Health estimates it will cost $343 million per annum to address the public sector waiting lists.

“To meet the demand the public dental sector needs to be better resourced. If this is not done then the private sector will need to be accessed. This could be done with the utilisation of a voucher scheme (similar to what currently exists in some states),” said the release.

A national dental scheme that meets the dental needs of the community has been described as an aspirational goal. The ADA’s DentalAccess Scheme offers the solution. It will target those Australian’s who genuinely have difficulty accessing dental care and at the same time offer the budgetary restraint needed.

In light of the new investment by the Australian Government towards the oral health of children, the ADA has revisited its DentalAccess proposal to consider how the oral health needs of the remaining targeted population can be best addressed.

The ADA estimates that a revised DentalAccess targeted towards the disadvantaged adult population will cost approximately $2 billion per annum, but will create savings of $5.5 billion over the forward estimates by replacing the CDDS (average savings of $700 million/year);

“The dental profession is extremely willing to work closely with the government to design an effective and sustainable solution to the oral health of all Australians, if given the chance,” added Dr Fryer.



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  1. A DentalAccess Scheme proposal aimed at the ” disadvantaged adult population ” must obviously also include those with systemic health concerns, as did the CDDS, but also the large proportion with dental anxiety or phobia. ” Disadvantage” must include more than just financial.


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