The verdict is in: the Turnbull Government’s attack on Labor’s Child Dental Benefits Scheme is a fraud.
The Australian Dental Association has denounced the Turnbull Government’s plans as “a smoke and mirrors” trick, while the National Oral Health Alliance point out the scheme amounts to a massive cut for those who need it most.
The Government says 10.5 million people including children will be eligible under the new scheme, but also states that only an extra 600,000 every year will be treated. That means people will get one treatment every 17 years, or else receive $40 per year for their care. And this 600,000 adults AND children is only 65% of the children alone being currently treated under the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.
The Australian Health and Hospitals Association has also warned “the funding is neither as generous as suggested in the announcement, nor will it underpin equitable access to care.”
The minister’s own state Liberal colleagues have called the announcement out for what it it is – a funding cut and cost shift on to the states.
NSW Assistant Minister for Health Pru Goward (a fellow Liberal) fears "a blow out in waiting lists and treatment times"
Even the minister has now come clean and admitted her “landmark reforms” are actually a massive cut to Commonwealth funding of dental care.
“A spokesman for Ms Ley confirmed the $1 billion cut.”
ABC NEWS ONLINE, 23 APRIL 2016
These admissions confirm that the government is scrapping a scheme that has already helped a million kids access badly needed dental care, many of whom had previously never before been able to afford to see a dentist.
This is a scheme that, in a major embarrassment for the Minister, the Government’s own review hailed as a success.
“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
Under the government’s scheme, children will only receive assistance if they join the waiting lists at already overcrowded public dental clinics.
In its first two budgets the Abbott government cut half a billion dollars out of these same public dental services, causing public dental waiting lists to blow out across the country.
In Tasmania the wait to attend one of these clinic is nearly three years and there are already 100,000 people waiting for public dental care in NSW.
Many regional and rural Australians live too far away from public dental services to ever be able to access these clinics.
By contrast 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.