Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Red News Readers,

Those dentists already attacking the proposal for a Denticare Scheme should be consulting their Code of Ethics and their consciences. Speaking out against a scheme that may provide affordable dental care to the 40% of the population who cannot afford it, is one of the most blatant examples of self interst in the health system I have ever heard . These dentists do not know what is going on in Australian society - people living for weeks, months even in dental pain, people living on soft foods for months, years,waiting for access to public dental services, people prescribed antibiotics for a dental infection but no pain relief and so medicating themselves inappropriately, people having no access to dental services after hours and so turning up in emergency departments of public hospital begging for help.

The Dental profession needs to get down off their well heeled high horse and start addressing the real needs of those in Australian society who cannot afford their exorbitant fees. I recently spent $400 on the reconstruction of one tooth. I could have $10,000 worth of orthodontic work done, but I don't have the funds for that. Fortunately I can afford private dental care, but there are many in our community who can't and deserve more consideration from those who call themselves dental professionals.

Jenny Haines

Dentists lash out at free care plan

Mark Metherell, smh

February 17, 2009

DENTISTS have condemned a Medicare-style system for free universal dental care being considered by the Rudd Government as impractical, and massively expensive.

The Denticare plan is part of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission's sweeping makeover in hospital and health services, including for indigenous people, the aged and young people with mental illness.

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Denticare would be financed by a 0.75 per cent income levy.

In its interim report released yesterday, the commission raised three options for reshaping state and federal governments' running of the health system.

The proposals range from an improved version of the existing system, through to the development of a European-style social insurance scheme financed by the Commonwealth under which people could choose from health fund plans which would purchase services on their behalf.

The commission is to decide which scheme it would favour in its final report to the Government expected by midyear.

The Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, said the Government was happy to have a debate about the possibility of a new tax to finance Denticare, which she described as a "fairly radical proposal … but we are interested in the community's response to this".

But Dr Neil Hewson, the president of the Australian Dental Association, representing private dentists, slammed the Denticare proposal, saying it could nearly double to $11 billion the cost of dentistry to the government and individual patients.

"The recommendation … for a universal Denticare scheme is impractical, nonsensical, overly simplistic and flies in the face of much of the deliberations that have taken place on this issue over the past decade," he said.

"It shows no appreciation of the real problems facing dental delivery in Australia."

The association believed the Government should target the 35 per cent of the community who could not access or afford proper dental care and said it would be fiscally irresponsible to introduce a universal scheme for dentistry.

The commission has also proposed an indigenous health authority to upgrade care indigenous Australians get, similar to the special arrangements made for veterans.

It has also called for schemes to boost health funding for rural communities, and for the introduction of more community services to counter mental illness among young people.

The commission strongly urged the introduction of individually controlled electronic personal health records which the commission's chairwoman, Dr Christine Bennett, described as "one of the most important systemic opportunities we have".

The report said there was an urgent need to tackle inequities in health status and outcomes and lack of access to health services for many groups in Australia. For indigenous Australians it proposed an increase in funding to reflect the much greater health needs.

A National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Authority would purchase services specifically for indigenous patients and focus on results to ensure high quality and timely access to services.

The chief executive of the Australian Health Insurance Association, Dr Michael Armitage, said insurers would consider the dental care proposal and other recommendations and compile a response to the reform commission.

"The industry would support any plan to improve access to dental care for Australians but it is about more than that - it's about quality, safety and achieving better health outcomes - not just health financing," he said.

The Opposition's health spokesman, Peter Dutton, said taxpayers would pay billions of dollars in extra taxes for a national Denticare scheme.

"Almost 11 million Australians or 50 per cent of the population would pay more than they currently do to meet the costs of the Denticare scheme," he said.

The Age