New dental scheme will be like Hunger Games

11 May 2016

The ADA has raised further concerns about the federal government's proposed new dental scheme, the Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme (caPDS) after the Department of Health confirmed during the recent Health Budget Lock-up that funding will be only available to the States and Territories on a first-come, first-served basis.

The lack of an agreed funding distribution model raises the spectre of a Hunger Games-style scenario where certain States and Territories could end up with the lion's share of funding, leaving the remainder with insufficient funds to meet the new demands on their public health systems for increased dental services.

Additionally there is no guarantee, notes ADA President Dr Rick Olive that "eligible patients from rural areas will be able to access a public dental clinic close enough to receive treatment ..." widening the accessability to dental services divide still further between rural & regional Australian and their city brethren.

This is in stark contrast to the current situation under the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) where rural and regional patients can simply go to their nearest participating local dentist to receive treatment.

Australians in towns like Chinchilla (Qld) and Casterton (Vic) will now be forced to travel long distances to receive the dental care they need, assuming of course that they can afford the transport costs for what could turn out to be in some regions a round trip of many hundreds of kilometres. For those cannot travel, the wait time for the services to come to them could blow out considerably, endangering their oral health.

“The ADA supports enshrining funding for states and territories in legislation however, without a fair distribution model and guarantees that eligible patients have the choice to either access public clinics or their local dentist appropriate to their specific circumstances, patients from smaller states and regional and rural areas stand a real risk of missing out on dental care under the Coalition’s caPDS," said Dr Rick Olive.

For the time being, the CDBS remains in operation after the legislation needed to abolish it failed to pass both houses of Parliament prior to  the election being called. This means that the scheme will continue in its current form for at least a few months beyond its original 1 July shutdown, assuming it is now closed at all.

The ADA is encouraging all eligible patients to make appointments for treatment under the CDBS with their preferred dentist as soon as possible, as well as asking everyone to send a strong message to the government during this election campaign that the CDBS should not be closed by signing the petition.