Dental forum calls for more money and reforms

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If Medicare Dental is scrapped, the Forum emphasised the critical importance that the associated funding be directed to oral health in other ways, resulting in a minimum $1billion pa in funding towards oral health.

Representatives from 80 community, consumer, health, practitioner and provider organisations met in Canberra on Wednesday to discuss why dental health has been getting poor treatment from national policy and funding. The forum, entitled ‘Why has dental health been getting the brush-off?’, was organised by a coalition of lobby groups including The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA), the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance (AHCRA), the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) and the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA).

“The forum was a mixture of the quite complex policy issues around oral health in Australia, and a discussion of how we handle ourselves in an advocacy sense—how we keep pushing for reform and appropriate finances in a positive way.”

The issues covered by the forum were previewed in an article earlier in the week in Crikey. Gregory pointed out that participants were deeply concerned about the current inadequacies in oral health, including poor access to dental services and insufficient prevention, but expressed their ongoing commitment to work together to achieve  equitable access to affordable and timely dental care in Australia.

A draft communiqué issued by the Forum welcomed:

  • support from all sides of politics and from across the non-government sector for significant improvements in oral health;
  • the important contribution in the Federal Budget 2012 to addressing waiting lists in the public system; together with action to establish the building blocks of universal oral health, including prevention and health promotion, workforce and  infrastructure initiatives.  ;
  • broad support for moving towards a universal system of dental care over time, in line with the health system for the rest of the body.
  • the importance of building this system by meeting the needs of the most disadvantaged first.

Forum participants acknowledged current negotiations around the future of the Medicare Chronic Diseases Dental Scheme. In the event that the MCDDS is scrapped, the Forum emphasised the critical importance that the associated funding be directed to oral health in other ways, resulting in a minimum $1billion pa in funding towards reducing the inequalities in access and outcomes through a universal scheme for oral health and dental care in Australia.

 

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