Government announces $4 billion dentist's bill
The Federal Government has outlined a $4 billion initiative aimed at boosting subsidized dental care, reducing waiting times and providing services to over one million low income adults and Australians in rural and remote areas.
The Dental Health Reform Package is unprecedented in the country’s history, and will specifically target the increasingly poor oral health amongst Australians, particularly those in low to middle income familes.
The $4 billion package will be rolled out over six years and will include:
- $2.7 billion for around 3.4 million Australian children who will be eligible for subsidised dental care;
- $1.3 billion for around 1.4 million additional services for adults on low incomes, including pensioners and concession card holders, and those with special needs; who will have better access to dental care in the public system; and
- $225 million for dental capital and workforce will be provided to support expanded services for people living in outer metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas.
“While Medicare and free hospital care have been a basic right for Australians for decades, millions of people in this country still go without adequate dental care,” Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek said.
Ms Plibersek said recent studies showed children in the poorest areas experience one and a half times the amount of tooth decay and cavities, compared to those in the wealthiest areas.
“We also know that low income households have more than double the number of family members with untreated tooth decay compared with high income households.”
Ms Plibersek said the $4 billion package was in addition to the $515 million announced in the 2012-13 Budget, which included a blitz on public dental waiting lists, additional dental training and support for people in rural and remote areas.
Federal Shadow Health Minister, Peter Dutton, wasted little time in upping the rhetoric against Ms Plibersek, accusing the government of ‘betraying’ the country’s dentists.
“Labor and the Greens have combined in the Senate to kick dentists in the teeth again. In the House of Reps they betrayed honest dentists and they have done it again in the Senate,” Mr Dutton said.