Greens say forgive dentists

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Senator Richard Di Natale

Following the announcement last week that Opposition health spokesperson Peter Dutton has introduced legislation to protect dentists being pursued by Medicare, Greens’ health spokesperson, Senator Richard Di Natale, has moved a similar motion in the Senate.

Senator Di Natale’s motion calls on the Government to forgive the debt owed to it by innocent dentists who have been caught up in audits of the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme for minor administrative or technical errors. The motion passed with the support of the Coalition.

“It’s clear that a small number of dentists have behaved unethically and deserve to be penalised for their actions,” said Senator Di Natale. “However, a large number of dentists, who provided treatment in good faith and achieved good clinical outcomes, have been caught up in these audits for making minor administrative errors.

“Good dentists may lose their practices and face bankruptcy for errors such as failing to send a treatment plan back to the patient’s GP.

“My motion called on the Government to forgive the debt owed to it by dentists who completed all services under the CDDS in good faith, to eligible patients and whose non-compliance was of a purely administrative nature. The motion was passed with the strong endorsement of the Coalition.

“I hope that the Government takes heed of this motion and acts swiftly to forgive the debt.

“If the Government fails to act on my motion, I would remind them of the Coalition bill before the Parliament that would compel them to take action. It would make sense for the Government to do the right thing now, instead of waiting for the Parliament to force it upon them.”

The full text of motion is as follows:

*721 Senator Di Natale: To move—That the Senate—

(a) notes that: 
(i) Medicare has completed audits of 89 dentists who accessed the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme, 
(ii) a further 540 audits are still underway, 
(iii) of the completed audits, only 12 were found to be for the non-provision of claimed services, 
(iv) of the remaining audits found to be non-compliant, non-compliance is in most cases of a technical and administrative nature, whereby the practitioner failed to provide a written quote to the patient or a treatment summary to the referring doctor in a timely fashion, and 
(v) claims for full repayment of services delivered under Medicare to the community may result in undue hardship to dental practitioners who acted in good faith; and

(b) calls on the Government to waive its right to the repayment of debts incurred by dental practitioners as a result of a Medicare audit where: 
(i) all services claimed were rendered properly and in good faith to eligible patients, and 
(ii) the nature of the non-compliance was purely administrative in nature.

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. It’s ridiculous to think that the government are only interested in the welfare of dentists particularly when the funding scheme of Enhanced Primary Care has since it’s introduction failed to target the population group most in need of oral health care.

    Furthermore, the government fails to recognise there are other oral health professionals who deliver effective oral health services who are not protected to the general public. These include, dental hygienists, dental therapists and oral health therapists who provide quality oral health care within their scope of practice.

    The ‘dentist’ status quo who ONLY provide oral health care needs to change.

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