The Turnbull Government has attempted to bury a glowing review by its own Department of Health which directly repudiates its attempt to scrap Labor’s Child Dental Benefits Scheme.
The review, published with no fanfare or even acknowledgement on the Department of Health website, finds the scheme to have been a success, despite the Turnbull Government’s refusal to publicise it.
“In particular, the Panel noted the success of the CDBS in targeting the oral health of young Australians at an age where preventative health measures can be most effective.”
Report on the Third Review of The Dental Benefits Act, 2008, page ix
Labor’s $2.7 billion dental program has provided 1 million Australian children with affordable dental care over the past two years, many of them children whose parents had never previously been able to afford a dentist.
Labor initiated the scheme following alarming reports by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that 42 per cent of 5 year olds and 61 per cent of 9 year olds had experienced decay in their baby (deciduous) teeth and 58 per cent of 14 year olds had experienced permanent tooth decay.
But many parents remain unaware the scheme exists, with the Health Department Review finding: “the CDBS has been poorly promoted.”
In contrast to the millions being squandered advertising the Prime Minister’s pet phrases, the Child Dental Benefits Scheme has never once featured in a TV or radio commercial, and has been the subject of a solitary mail out to parents in January 2014.
After deliberately hiding the scheme from parents, the Turnbull Government is now using that lack of promotion as cover to scrap a scheme its own health department has described as a “success”
This is just the latest in a long line of attacks on dental health programs by the Liberals which has seen:
- $390 cut million from adult public dental services, worsening dental waiting lists across Australia.
- $225 million cut from dental clinics in regional Australia and nursing homes.
- $125.6 million cut from the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.
Now, with Mr Turnbull too weak to consider serious tax reform, it appears the Liberals are resorting to yet another attack on health.
This attack would come on top of the $60 billion in health cuts already announced by this government in its first 2 years in power, including $57 billion cuts from hospitals, its four year freeze on Medicare rebates for GPs and its $650 million in cuts to Medicare rebates for pathology and diagnostic imaging.
Now the government has the teeth of Australia’s kids in its sights, confirming yet again that the Liberals only ever see health as a source for Budget cuts.