Home' News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin June 2016 Contents PRESIDENT'S COMMENTS
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AFTER THE CHILD AND ADULT PUBLIC DENTAL SCHEME (caPDS) had been announced the
2016 Budget delivered few surprises. Whereas it might be expected that the Commonwealth allocation
of $415 million next year might be proportionally divided between the states and territories on the basis
of the number of children and health card carriers, it is not so. If one state can use up all the allocation
before the others claim, they miss out. What a competition...watch out State of Origin! It appears some
new sort of federalism is being created. If you thought the Federal Government was trying to wash its
hands of responsibility for dental health then this is confirmation. Sentiments expressed in the National
Oral Health Plan (NOHP) have been completely discarded. Utilisation should surely be married to the
targets identified in the NOHP.
There are some positives with the caPDS including more certainty about public dental services
funding with the Dental Benefits Act currently being amended to include a part setting up these
arrangements. Also the performance and costs of services through the public dental services
will be transparent throughout Australia. The downside is no allowance for contribution to
preventive measures such as water fluoridation and the substantial underwriting of dental
practitioner education through placements in facilities funded by states and territories.
What seems certain is that outsourcing arrangements, prominent in previous National Partnership
Agreements, are likely to dry up. When states have to find 60% of the fee to pay private dentists
I expect they will try to avoid outsourcing. This will be very bad news for the eligible residents of
towns like Chinchilla in Queensland and Casterton in Victoria; and the dozens, perhaps hundreds of
towns in regional and remote Australia where there are private dentists but no government clinic.
On 29 April 2016, the ADA Deputy CEO, Ms Eithne Irving and I gave evidence to the Senate Select
Committee about these matters. The Coalition, which claims to support small business and private
enterprise, appears hell bent on limiting access to dental services through private dentists.
The election has frustrated the introduction of legislation to both close the CDBS and
introduce the caPDS. So the CDBS lives on for the moment as advised in the May E-News to
members. Notwithstanding this deferral of legislation, if you have not yet signed the CDBS
petition or encouraged your patients to sign it please participate in the petition by visiting:
ELECTION REPORT CARD
For the upcoming Federal Election it is worth reviewing the performance and policies of the
major parties. There are positives and negatives for each party. The Coalition loses points for
its closure of the CDBS which is irrational; but it can take credit for fairly promptly removing
dentists and dental specialists from the Skilled Occupation Lists. Unfortunately, nothing has been
done about the excessive production of dentists in Australia. It oversaw the preparation and release
of the 2015--24 NOHP. The Minister's attack on the profession by haranguing that the CDBS needed
to be closed down because of rorting and lack of uptake by the target population is offensive.
Two government reviews indicated the promotion of the scheme was its only flaw which was
agreed by the Department of Health. The Department indicated it suspects up to $4 million out of
expenditure of more than $600 million may have been 'inappropriately' claimed -- in many cases due
to noncompliance with difficult administrative issues.
Labor has not indicated whether it will continue with caPDS and its guaranteed funding model. It has
said it will retain the CDBS. Any advantage this gives over the Coalition may be dampened by its more
aggressive position on taxation and superannuation.
The Greens have supported the retention of the CDBS but have often spoken about funding dentistry
through Medicare. This will not line up with the ADA's position of targeted funding, which is also
enshrined in the NOHP. It is working closely with the ADA on how dental care should be funded.
As with each Federal Election, the ADA will be writing to each major party seeking details of their
stance on dental issues. A report card will then be published and distributed to members.
The release of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) report on the
Operations of Private Health Insurers for 2014/15 indicated the industry averaged 22.8% of
contributors' funds for extras insurance not returned as rebates or benefits. This is an increase
from last year and shows no progress has been made in the rorting of the members of
health funds by this rapacious industry and especially the for profit segment of the industry.
The four health funds with the biggest share of the premium revenue, in order -- Medibank
Private Limited, Bupa, HCF and NIB have all retained more than 22% of contributors' funds for
their own purposes. The four with the lowest retention of premiums for general insurance,
each retaining less than 5% are ACA, HPL, Navy Health and Defence Health. Surprisingly, the
four most greedy enjoy 73.8% of the market for general insurance by premium value while
the four most generous funds hold 2.6% of the market. Why don't more people switch?
Obviously, the PHI industry is not as transparent as it should be.
ADA NEWS BULLETIN | JUNE 2016 | 1
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