Labor will oppose the Government’s axing of the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS), standing up against Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to force over five million children onto long public dental waiting lists.
In Government, Labor established the CDBS in response to alarming evidence about the oral health of Australian children. The CDBS provides eligible children with up to $1,000 in dental services every two years, with a strong focus on preventive care.
Today, Labor protects the Child Dental Benefits Scheme by removing it from the Government’s Omnibus legislation.
The Government’s own Health Department says the CDBS has been a success, with the only failure being the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s refusal to promote it.
Labor’s National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Adult Public Dental Services has also helped states and territories provide public dental services to eligible adults. As the Government admits, the NPA has funded treatment for an additional 400,000 patients.
But now, the Government wants to scrap these proven programs and establish its own Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme (caPDS).
If implemented, the caPDS would force over five million children onto long public dental waiting lists. This will prevent families from seeing the dentist of their choice, and lengthen waiting times for children and the adults who are already entitled to public dental services.
As the National Oral Health Alliance has noted, caPDS funding would allow eligible patients to be seen just once every 17 years. People in rural and remote areas would be even worse off, given a shortage of public dental clinics.
The Government’s caPDS would also allow States and Territories to charge co-payments for public dental care. This is just another attempt to shift costs onto patients by the Government that gave us the GP Tax and now the Medicare rebate freeze – a co-payment by stealth.
The Government’s plan to axe the CDBS and NPA will save $52 million over four years. Labor is prepared to work with the Government to deliver the same quantum of dental savings while protecting patients.
But Labor will not stand by while the Government axes the effective CDBS and NPA and forces children onto long dental waiting lists.
TUESDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: JOANNE CLEARY 0428 816 751