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News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin July 2011
11 July 2011 The Australian Dental Association Inc. (ADA) recently met with the Hon. Nicola Roxon MP, Minister for Health, regarding the recent Budget announcements. The ADA remains cautiously optimistic that processes are being put in place to address the disparity in oral health within the Australian population. Minister Roxon confirmed the importance of the ADA in those processes, particularly as a member of the National Advisory Council on Dental Health and in the development of the voluntary intern program for dental graduates. “Addressing the barriers limiting the provision of oral health services is critical if parity for the 30% of Australians who cannot access proper dental care and suffer from poor oral health, spending excessive periods – sometimes years – waiting to receive basic dental care in our public system, is to be achieved”, says Dr Shane Fryer, ADA Federal President. The ADA reinforced the message to Minister Roxon that sound investment made in this area now could significantly reduce costs in the future. Building on its Pre-Budget Submission, the ADA identified three priority groups which require immediate consideration: 1. Persons aged 4–18 years old The high incidence of decay in children and teenagers as highlighted in a recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare is thought to be due to a range of issues including increased intake of acidic foods, soft drinks and sugary foods, compounded by inadequate brushing and a reduction in the provision of services through school dental programs. Establishing good oral health and oral hygiene habits in children and adolescents is a key plank in limiting the demand for dental health services later in life. To address this increase in decay, the ADA recommended that oral health be a key priority for the National Preventive Health Agency. Greater emphasis on prevention through school dental programs, reduced access to sugary foods and drinks in canteens and tuck shops and extension of the Teen Dental Plan to eligible children between the age of four and 18 years (from 12–17) are some of the ways in which action could be taken in the immediate future. 2. Health card/concession card holders The ADA supports the Government’s direction to close the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme and replace it with the Commonwealth Dental Health Program as a means of improving services to those most disadvantaged in the community. By placing a greater emphasis within National Partnership Agreements on oral health, the ADA hopes that there will be better utilisation of the public and private sectors to deliver a comprehensive range of treatments to patients according to their needs. The work of the Preventive Health Agency should also focus on oral health issues more prevalent in adult age groups, e.g., oral cancer, smoking and alcohol consumption. 3. Persons with Special Needs Elderly people living in residential aged care facilities have decreasing general health, polypharmacy and cognitive impairment and therefore have an increased risk of dental disease. Yet more than 50% have particular difficulty accessing dental care which further impacts on their quality of life. That is why the ADA continues to call upon the Federal Government to provide requirements within aged care accreditation standards for improved access for dental teams to provide services in residential aged care facilities and more education of carers on how to improve the oral health of residents and to reduce the progression or occurrence of respiratory diseases among high risk elderly. Similarly, those with physical or intellectually disability often needs specialist equipment and facilities for treatment provision and agreements with states and territories is required to ensure public sector dental services can accommodate and treat this population group. nATIOnAL AdvISORY COUnCIL On dEnTAL HEALTH Dr Fryer discussed with the Minister her proposal to establish a National Advisory Council on Dental Health and reinforced the view the Council should focus its deliberations on how it might provide services to the proportion of the population that is not currently experiencing good oral health rather than examining the provision of oral health services overall. The ADA is also recommending that membership of the Council should be limited to ensure it does not become unwieldy. MEdICARE AUSTRALIA AUdITS Of CHROnIC dISEASE dEnTAL SCHEME Dr Fryer also took the opportunity to discuss with Minister Roxon the ADA’s concerns regarding Medicare Australia’s (MA) audit processes relating to dentists’ treatment of patients under the Medicare Chronic Disease Dental Scheme (the Scheme). Despite reaching an understanding with MA on how audits would be conducted, it is clear from the information received from ADA members, that dentists are being made the scapegoat for the Scheme’s failures. The conduct of MA in their ruthless pursuit of recovery has only served to create distrust and suspicion among dentists with government schemes. The consequences of this activity will be closure of surgeries, likely refusal of dentists to treat deserving patients experiencing financial hardship in need of care. This will be chiefly attributable to innocent administrative non-compliance with a scheme identified from the outset by the ADA to be fundamentally flawed. Dr Fryer called for urgent action to ensure that MA immediately instigates audit protocols that are more reflective of the sentiments expressed in the ADA meetings with Minister Plibersek and Medicare Australia. Source: Excerpt from the National Dental Update, June 2011. The ADA National Dental Update is a monthly publication distributed to politicians and opinion leaders. Other issues can be viewed at www.ada.org.au tHe ADA DiSCUSSeS DentAL PRiORitieS with Minister Roxon national dental update
ADA News Bulletin June 2011
ADA News Bulletin August 2011