ADA points the finger at government

ADA President Dr Shane Fryer

The President of the Australian Dental Association Inc. (ADA), Dr Shane Fryer, has accused the federal government of scapegoating dentists to cover a budget shortfall. In a press release, Dr Fryer said it was clear the pursuit of dentists who had used the Medicare Dental scheme was to fill the government’s revenue gaps and achieve a budget surplus by next financial year.

“The Australian Government is examining how it can make savings across the health portfolio, which includes targeting dentists for making minor administrative errors under the Chronic Dental Disease Scheme (CDDS) and demanding dentists repay the full cost of delivering dental care and treatment to patients with chronic diseases,” said Dr Fryer.

The ADA has continually spoken about its reservations regarding the Government’s motivation for the Medicare audits and the Government’s attempts at closure of the Scheme.

“It is extremely unfair of the Government to demand full repayment of the cost of much needed dental care delivered to patients suffering chronic diseases merely because the dentist failed to complete paperwork. The manner in which Medicare has pursued dentists delivering legitimate care is quite extraordinary.

If there has been a serious or blatant breach of the Scheme from a dental treatment perspective or a fraudulent activity, then such pursuit of repayment of Medicare claims would be warranted. The ADA does not support inappropriate conduct of dentists in any way,” said Dr Fryer.

The ADA has requested that Medicare provide a breakdown of the reasons for dentists being deemed non compliant in the Scheme. The same request has recently been made in the Senate. To-date, Medicare has not provided any details.

Medicare’s aggressive action has placed a number of dentists who have only made administrative errors under severe financial strain and potentially the threat of bankruptcy, despite chronic disease patients receiving the dental care and treatment they needed.

The ADA has reason to believe the Government is using the demand for repayment by dentists as a way to recoup money due the significant blow out in the budgeting of the Scheme.

“The majority of dentists participating in the Scheme simply tried their best to fulfil the patient’s dental needs but were unaware of the administrative requirements they needed to meet.

Medicare’s communication to dentists about the administrative requirements for the Scheme has been exceedingly poor. This is perhaps best exemplified by the Medicare website where a link to the CDDS leads to information on the Medicare Teen Dental Plan only.

Legitimate, quality dental care and treatment has been provided to people with chronic disease, under the scheme,” stated Dr Fryer.



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  1. The CDDS has also allowed many patients who sould normally be seen ONLY in public dental clinics to be seen in private, reducing waiting lists for others who do NOT have access to the CDDS to be seen quicker through the public dental system. The government cant have it both ways….

  2. re the CDDS…
    I also feel that the ADA should address the government (medicare) not only regarding dentists who have only made administrative errors but those dentist who employ and delegate dental proceedures to their Hygienists and Oral Health Therapists, as this is also part of the issue. As Oral Health Therapists and Hygienists practice dentistry under the dentist provider number and work in a delegated team enviornment I cant see the problem. They (medicare) argue that the agreement is with the dentist not the axillary but the dentist is in the supervisory role and private health funds approve of this operation and pay rebates. As APRAH registers these axilleries as “Dental Practitioners” in their respective roles maybe it is time that these “Dental Practitioners” were given their own provider numbers to work under. That would solve alot of problems for everyone. Oral health therapists and hygienists pay the same registration, indemnity insurance and are open to litigation same as dentist other health professionals. I find it outrageous that in this day and age that this profession can practice dentistry but still cant provide it. However the masseuse down the road has a provider number and he/she is not preforming irreversable or invasive proceedures. Unbelievable!

  3. I completely agree with you Cheryll – Medicare shuold not have scapegoated oral health practitioners in the Chronic Disease audits. Oral health therapists, dental therapists and dental hygienists were just doing their job by providing high quality oral health care to their patients.

  4. I wish to post this anonymously considering how agressive and fear-inducing medicare is about pursuing innocent,hard-working, caring dentists. Medicare’s initial guidelines are flawed because dentists did not previously write letters to GPs (we were NOT specialists) or often write full treatment plans (mostly verbal.) to patients. Because the government is better adapted to letter writing they imposed this impost on general dentists. Many dentists had to up-skill and purchase software for this purpose.

    This policy is also is direct contrast to the government’s own policy to cut red tape AND carbon emissions (computer and ink and paper wastage.) Also how is it possible to re-pay ALL monies when staff and ATO have been paid? We have been foisted the patients that would have been seen by public departments AND now are being pursued for monies (if bulk-billed) were only approx. half of ADA fees!!!
    The waiting lists have been growing steadily over the past 10 years and the government saw fit to try the mercy of private hard-working practitioners to do its work because it could not reduce the waiting lists!!
    As always it is Public vs. private enterprise because the gov. is divesting itself from responsibility and thereby litigation for incompetence!!


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