ADA calls for Liberals to match Labor’s dental spend

13 May 2019

The ADA is calling for the Liberal Party to match the funding commitment, after congratulating Labor for its announcement to allocate $2.4 billion to a Pensioner Dental Plan.

One of the guiding principles of the ADA since its founding has been "to encourage the improvement of the oral and general health of the public", something that the Labor policy, under which people receiving an Age Pension or holding a Commonwealth Seniors card will receive $1,000 in dental care every two years, will go a long way to addressing.

So far this election, the Liberals have not committed funds for additional dental care for older Australians, and the ADA is pressing them to put their cards on the table. 

“We would like to see more from the Liberals on what they intend to do, to address the issue of affordability for a significant proportion of the Australian population. Can they deliver a similar benefit?” 

Under the Labor Plan, people receiving an Age Pension or holding a Commonwealth Seniors card will receive $1,000 in dental care every two years. 

This means a range of dental services including examinations, x-rays, cleaning, fluoride treatment, fillings, root canals, extractions, periodontal treatment and dentures would be covered, and delivered either through their chosen private dentist or through public services.

All of which is good news for older Australians, who will benefit from a model pioneered under the Child Dental Benefits Schedule, which the ADA played a key role in saving and which forms the basis of its Australian Dental Health Plan which provides a comprehensive framework through which the federal government can provide services to groups with unmet dental health needs such as children, adults and the aged from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people from rural and remote areas, and those with special needs.

The ADA is lobbying both major parties on four key oral health policies designed to close the gap in need and access to dental services:

- to introduce a dental benefits scheme for the financially disadvantaged,

- to bring in a dental benefits scheme for older Australians,

- to guarantee the long-term future of National Partnership Agreements, and

- to amend legislation on differential rebates so customers choosing their own dentist get the same private health insurance rebate as patients seeing a preferred provider.

"The election represents a crossroad for the major political parties in terms of how they can improve publicly funded dental care, and we are keen to see whether the Liberal party steps up," added Dr Bonanno.