Medicare rethink a “victory for common sense”

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Minister Kim Carr has stepped in to allow Medicare to take a more "educative" approach towards dentists found in breach of the CDDS rules.

Yesterday reports filtered out that Human Services Minister Kim Carr had announced there would retrospective changes to compliance arrangements for the Medicare CDDS. At a senate estimates committee hearing on Tuesday, Senator Carr, said that the cases of each of the 66 dentists currently found to be non-compliant, “will be worked through again on the basis of a new determination and in some, a new conclusion may be reached. In addition, there are another 534 audits currently underway and further consideration will be given to each of these.”

Senator Carr stressed that the outcomes of the cases weren’t guaranteed and no-one was getting a free pass. His move comes following the testimony to another Senate Committee by an associate secretary at the Department of Human Services, Ben Rimmer. Mr Rimmer told the Senate’s finance and public administration committee that legal advice had shown that dentists found to be non-compliant had incurred a debt that the Commonwealth was obliged to recover, and there was no scope for “an educative approach”.

The ADA has cautiously welcomed the news while reminding dentists that they still needed to comply with Medicare rules.

Liberal Senator for Tasmania David Bushby described the move as a win for commonsense. “This has been a politically-motivated witch-hunt from the get go, designed by the Labor Government to shut down a scheme introduced by Tony Abbott in 2007, which has delivered around 11 million treatments to close to a million Australians,” Senator Bushby said.

“Innocent and well-intentioned practitioners have been put through the ringer for over a year for making inadvertent administrative errors relating to minor paperwork requirements.”

Australian Greens senator Richard Di Natale said Senator Carr’s announcement was welcome.

“This decision will rebuild trust between the dental profession and government, which is critical if a new national dental scheme currently being negotiated between the Greens and government is to be successful,” he told AAP.

 

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