by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin December 2011
3 DECEMBER 20 11 DEAL WITH MEDICARE CAUTIOUSLY -- DENTISTS IN SWAN'S SIGHTS TO BALANCE BUDGET It was with interest that I read an article in The Australian Financial Review (Tuesday, 8 November 2011), titled 'Swan sinks teeth into dental rorts'. The statement is made that "The government is examining structural savings in the broad health portfolio that could include targeting dentists for over-claiming under the limited publicly funded dental scheme" and "Rorts in the publicly funded dental scheme are in the federal government's sights as it hunts for savings to ensure the budget returns to surplus as planned." It appears that dentists are being used as a scapegoat by the Government to fill its revenue gaps and achieve a budget surplus. As we know this targeting by the Government largely relates to the making of minor administrative errors under the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme (CDDS) and demanding dentists repay the full cost of delivering dental care and treatment to patients with chronic diseases. The manner in which Medicare has pursued dentists delivering legitimate care is quite extraordinary. The ADA does not support inappropriate conduct by dentists in any way. If there has been a serious or blatant breach of the scheme from a dental treatment perspective or a fraudulent activity, then pursuit of repayment of Medicare claims would be warranted. On a number of occasions now Medicare has been requested to provide a detailed breakdown of the reasons for dentists being deemed non compliant. We have asked them to delineate between those practitioners that have merely fallen down on their paperwork and others where different issues may be involved. To date, this request is being ignored as it appears the simplicity of conducting a paper trail audit makes life for the Medicare auditor easy. However, our efforts and the efforts of others now seem to be getting somewhere. At the time of writing this, I note that the Senate has passed a motion calling on the Government to formally provide this information and acknowledge that non-compliance errors in the scheme have been minor and technical in nature and to desist from demanding full repayment of all Medicare benefits from dental practitioners where non-compliance has been of an administrative nature. The Senators also asked that the Government instruct Medicare Australia to halt all recovery action until a full reassessment of audit results has been carried out so as to allow for consideration of a warning or smaller penalty applying. Let us hope that sense will now prevail. Having said this, members should be aware that it is a requirement of Medicare to conduct audits to ensure that the public dollar is being spent correctly. The ADA's position in relation to the current situation is that Medicare's communication to dentists about the administrative requirements for the CDDS has been exceedingly poor and the audit activity is being conducted in an overzealous way. Given this latest newspaper piece if you are or intending to deal with Medicare in any way proceed with caution as this article certainly indicates the true reason behind the Government's actions against dentists. THE GREENS Members will no doubt have read of the outcome of the Greens party conference where the party again called for the introduction of a universal dental plan to be provided by the federal government. This is contrary to the ADA's option of targeting funding for dental care to those that really need government assistance to access treatment. Prior to the Greens Party Conference, a meeting was held with the Greens health spokesman, Senator Richard Di Natale in Melbourne (a general medical practitioner and public health specialist) to discuss the ADA's preferred option for government funding and to also liaise with him in relation to the considerable work the Senator had done in the Senate's hearing regarding the Medicare CDDS audits. While we may have to agree to disagree on our opposing stances with respect to a public dental scheme, the Senator was certainly sympathetic to the logic behind the ADA's approach that instead of providing a very basic service to all Australians it would be more economic and effective to provide worthwhile long-term solutions to those experiencing difficulty accessing care. We were on the same page though when it came to the need for concerted oral health promotion/education activities being essential and the need for more investment in public dental health facilities. Workforce issues were addressed where the Senator was advised of the almost certain creation of an oversupply of dentists in the future, as well as the current maldistribution of the dentist workforce and thus the need for more incentives (such as those provided in medicine) to be provided to encourage practitioners to practise in the rural and remote regions of Australia. I am pleased to report in relation to the CDDS audits that Senator Di Natale (as can be seen from his activities in the Senate hearings) was very sympathetic to the plight of those dentists being pursued by Medicare Australia for recovery of monies received due solely to non-compliance with administrative requirements. On behalf of all members I conveyed my appreciation to the Senator and thanked him for his actions. SEASON'S GREETINGS 2011 has certainly been an eventful year from many perspectives but now as it is coming to a close I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone all the compliments of the season and a happy New Year. May 2012 be all that you are hoping for! F. Shane Fryer Federal President president's comments "...if you are or intending to deal with Medicare in any way proceed with caution as this article indicates the true reason behind the Government's actions against dentists."
ADA News Bulletin November 2011
ADA News Bulletin February 2012