Senate embraces ADA plan

Shane Fryer
The ADA’s President, Shane Fryer, has pushed for DentalAccess principles to inform the new CDBS.

The Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs has reported back to the Senate on the government’s new Dental Benefits Amendment Bill 2012, which includes the plan to close the Medicare CDDS and the scope of the new Child Dental Benefit Schedule (CDBS). One of the major issues the ADA raised with the committee was the need for the new scheme to provide scope for the treatment of exceptional cases in appropriate circumstances, and it appears the committee is offering a solution.

The report stated that, “With specific regard to the $1000 cap for treatment over two years under the CDBS the committee believes this to be appropriate. However the committee would also support the establishment of an exceptional cases procedure whereby treatment can be provided under the CDBS, in accordance with strict clinical criteria, in cases where the $1000 cap would not be sufficient. The committee would envisage the provision of hospital-based dental treatment to be covered under such a procedure.”

In general support for the adoption of the ADA’s DentalAccess proposal the Committee also expressed the view:

The committee agrees with the majority of contributors that the scheme is targeted appropriately at children and will provide long-term health benefits for those that participate in the scheme. The committee also supports the means testing element of the scheme that while agreeing that universal public dental service provision is a long-term goal, adopting a scheme that as a first step attempts to tackle oral health inequality caused by socio-economic disadvantage is the correct strategy. As previously discussed the committee is hopeful that all services required to address children’s dental needs will be available, and looks forward to the publication of the children’s dental services schedule in the coming months.

The Coalition’s recommendations were:

1. That support for children should continue through the CDDS until the CDBS is operations

2. That the Government considers extending financial assistance above the cap of $1000 for children requiring more complex dental treatment as a result of chronic disease.

The Australian Greens in their report stated: (The Australian Greens) share some of the concerns raised about the timing of the new scheme and the delay between the cessation of the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme and the commencement of the CDBS and the National Partnership Agreement.

In an article in the next edition of Bite magazine, Greens health spokesperson Senator Richard Di Natale says, “One of the Health Minister’s favourite attacks on the CDDS has been the suggestion that it was being heavily rorted. While there are some clear examples of rorting, I know that many dentists were unfairly caught up in Medicare audits because of simple administrative errors… The Minister for Human Services, Kim Carr, announced a few months ago that the Government acknowledged that some dentists had been unfairly caught up in the audits and that they would review the process retrospectively. At the time of writing this, the legislation to unravel the audit injustice hasn’t yet been introduced, but I have been briefed on the bill and gladly I expect it to be introduced imminently.

“However, the fact that there were so many administrative errors does actually indicate some flaws in the design of the CDDS and has been quite instructive. One of the big improvements in the new scheme is that we have dramatically reduced the administrative burden on dentists, removing the likelihood of accidental error in the future.”


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