I know the last thing you want to hear from a dentist in Joondalup is politics but when it has to do with my profession, I feel it is my duty to speak out. The recent proposed budget is sadly deficient when it comes to serving the needs of our country’s people.
The Government is making sure everyone knows they are allocating as much as $5 billion to dental services. They would have us believe that the new Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme is going to solve everyone’s problems when it replaces the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS). Sadly, when the smoke and mirrors are removed, dental services are slated to receive less funding under the new scheme.
The new scheme means that services will be available for more than 10 million people, counting adults and children a rise of 6.6 million over the current 3.4 million children currently covered. This would be great but the amount of money to go around is less while there are three times as many people to help.
When the numbers are crunched and the math is done, it works out to about $42 per eligible person.
The news isn’t all bad. States and territories would be guaranteed funding for the next four years under the proposed budget. However, the system is already stretched to its limit, meaning the current amount of funding won’t begin to provide dental services to as many people that need them.
The funding mechanism is called “activity based funding,” meaning allocations increase in proportion to the number of patients who are treated. This will provide for some transparency because the allocations will be directly linked with the services provided. However, there is no guarantee that the public sector will ever be included in this process.
There were other decisions that may have a lesser effect on dental health. Businesses that turn over less than $10 million will be receiving a number of tax benefits. That will allow many dentists to provide better service and facilities. A “Private Health Sector Committee” would provide advice on the technical and specialist aspects of working with the health insurance system.
In addition, an increased cigarette tax would provide more revenue and could result in less smoking. Smoking not only stains the teeth but causes them to decay, too.
The budget hasn’t been approved yet and we, along with the Australian Dental Association (ADA), plan to continue the battle to keep the CDBS.
What it Means to You
We aren’t going to get into the full political arguments here because we really don’t like it when politics get in the way of people receiving dental services. However, we will say that it is extremely important that an entire generation of Australian children don’t become “dental orphans” thanks to the Government.
We love the proposal that funding would also be allocated to make sure that everyone, regardless of financial situation, can receive dental services. We think it is well worth looking into. But it is going to take a lot more money than what is currently being allocated to dental services. It will take even more money than what is currently being proposed.
The big question: where is the money going to come from? The ADA suggests that a sugar tax would be a great place to start. Sugar is the dietary substance that does more harm to teeth than any other substance. It also plays a major role in obesity, especially childhood obesity. A sugar tax would produce revenue from the same substance that produces cavities: sugar.
Whatever the case or however it plays out, the current budget is sorely deficient for ensuring dental health for all Australians.
Are You Looking for a Dentist in Joondalup
If you are looking for a dentist in Joondalup, call 1300 Great Smile. We provide a full range of dental services, including emergency dentistry, from our two offices in Joondalup. We treat all of our patients like family. To learn more or to make an appointment, call us today:(08) 9404 9500