Home' News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin July 2016 Contents PRESIDENT’S COMMENTS
CDBS, caPDS, THE ELECTION AND THE FEES SURVEY
In the lead up to the election announcement, dentistry was in the headlines with our push for the retention
of the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) and criticism of the Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme
(caPDS). The release of the National Child Oral Health Survey 2012-2014 by the University of Adelaide
created some interest for a couple of days and provided the opportunity to point to the paucity of 2 to 4
year olds who have ever attended a dental practitioner (only 22%) and the resulting substantial levels of
untreated caries in the primary teeth of children aged 6 to 8 years (27.9%). These data clearly show
the CDBS was accurately targeted. We have obtained considerable traction with the Greens. Their
dental plan very closely reflects ADA’s Australian Dental Health Plan. This line will be pushed in
our campaign and in meetings with government to keep dentistry as an issue for voters.
On the general election front, younger members of the profession to whom I have spoken
are very upset about the proposed closing off of the CDBS to private practice while older
members seem to be very cranky about the superannuation changes. I am surprised the
Coalition has not taken notice of the fate of the former Queensland Premier, Campbell
Newman who antagonised his support base without considering the political consequences.
One aspect of the caPDS that has not been commented on is the intention to set a national
efficient price (NEP) for dentistry as part of the funding arrangement. Already there is a
process for setting the NEP for medicine which is the basis for funding hospitals and cases
treated in hospitals. Because dentistry has been poorly investigated and its GA patients are
time consuming, hospitals are poorly paid for dentistry so it is difficult for general dentists
and most dental specialists to secure hospital sessions. The calculations to set the NEP
for every procedure are done by the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) and
it is anticipated the same body will undertake the dental NEP project too. In expectation
of this, Federal Executive has recently met twice with IHPA and I expect the ADA will
become more involved over the coming months with their processes. While the caPDS will
commence using a schedule of fees based on the DVA fees, it is expected the IHPA project
will thoroughly assess all costs that contribute to each fee and develop a raft of new NEPs
for dental services.
Obviously, ADA relies on data collected from the Dental Practice Surveys and the Fees Surveys.
It is regrettable the response rate for these surveys has dropped in recent years somewhat
undermining the authority of these data. It is very fortunate the ADA can point to consistent
trends over the more than 50 years the surveys have been conducted which may be some
compensation for the dropping response rate. The 2016 Dental Fees Survey is now underway and
I strongly urge all members to spend five to 10 minutes to complete the survey. It may not just be
the fees for the caPDS at stake but quite possibly all future fee schedules for government schemes.
PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE
The recent media release by Mr Graeme Samuels (former ACCC Commissioner and now adviser
to the Federal Government on health funds) that health insurance needs to be more transparent
indicates the ADA’s message is finally penetrating the government’s thinking. It has been the theme
of ADA submissions to government over many years. Mirroring the ADA’s earlier recommendations,
the recent announcement from Minister Ley that a re-elected Coalition government would
ensure that contributors can access standard levels of cover explained in plain English and
protect patients against junk policies and fine print is most welcome and long overdue.
Although not clearly stated, it is crucial these changes also apply to ‘Extras’ health
The ADA and branches constantly provide advice to members about their various
disputes with health funds. A common complaint is that a health fund staffer has
redirected the member’s patient to another dentist. Numerous examples of this
behaviour have been submitted to the ACCC over recent years. Evidence suggests
health funds engage in third line forcing and cartel behavior, both of which should attract
automatic sanction from the ACCC. For years the ADA has provided various resources to
assist those members who wish to discuss health fund arrangements with their patients.
The document – It’s your choice is still available to download from the ADA website which
many members have used in discussions with their patients. Additional resources are being
developed by the ADA including posters and a comparator based on data collected by the
Australian Ombudsman and APRA that members can use to guide their patients to better
value health insurance as part of a practice-based campaign.
Phone: 02 9906 4412 or
24 June 2016
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