DVA win for therapists

WA Dental Therapist Roseanne Toutountzis, whose weekly caseload is 20 to 30 per cent DVA patients, will now be able to treat DVA patients again.

Following a vocal campaign by dental therapists and oral health therapists, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) has advised that effective from 1 November 2012 dental hygienists, dental therapists and oral health therapists will be able to provide preventive dental services to members of the veteran community.

The issue needed resolving following an audit last year by the Department of Human Services into the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme (CDDS)—a program that operates under a similar legislative framework as Veterans’ Affairs—which revealed that dentists and dental specialists were unable to claim payment through Medicare for treatment provided by hygienists, dental therapists and oral health therapists. It was the subject of a long story in the May issue of Bite magazine (which you can read online here).

The discovery, highlighting the current legislation being out of step with emerging industry practices, was a revelation to all. Not only was the department under the impression veterans were being serviced solely by dentists and dental specialists, but the hygienists, dental therapists and oral health therapists discovered the payment for their treatment was being claimed illegally—albeit unknowingly.

Working to amend the situation, in late January the Australian Dental Association (ADA) lobbied on behalf of the Dental Hygienists Association of Australia Inc. (DHAA) to instate the services of the dental hygienists. By mid-February, a new notification by the DVA was issued to include dental hygienists.

The Repatriation Commission and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission quickly established an interim arrangement to ensure that preventative dental services provided by hygienists—under the direction of a dentist or dental specialist—could continue for veteran patients and be legitimately claimed under DVA’s current schedule arrangements. But that arrangement didn’t extend to dental and oral health therapists.

The DVA now says that situation has been resolved, and therapists can treat DVA patients if they are registered with the Dental Board of Australia (DBA) and comply with approved scope of practice registration standards; covered by either their employer’s indemnity insurance or maintain their own insurance as mandated by the DBA; and qualified and competent to provide the service.

The remuneration for services remains unchanged; i.e. the claim is submitted by the dentist or dental specialist on their behalf at the current DVA dental fee.

The DVA has advised the ADA of its appreciation to providers for their patience while work was undertaken towards a permanent solution and to thank providers for their commitment to the provision of quality care to the veteran community.

More information is available online here.


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  1. In the artilce of the DVA win, you use the name Australian Hygienists Association of Ausatalia Inc. There is no such association in Australia. The Dental Hygienists’ Association of Australia Inc is the correct name. You may want to check which association you mean. I know that the DHAA Inc has sent out a notice to all of its members about the DVA policy.


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