Home' News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin March 2016 Contents PRESIDENT’S COMMENTS
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2016 WILL BE A FEDERAL ELECTION YEAR with all the political manoeuvering that goes with such media feasts.
Governments at federal, state and local levels cumulatively fund about 24% of dentistry, so elections and
the promises made present both an opportunity and a threat. The threat arises if a government decides to
reallocate the meagre funds supporting dentistry through the public funding of services to veterans, children
and other welfare recipients, or withdraw the PHI rebate, part of which supports PHI contributors for dental
cover. The opportunity arises because, of all the mainstream health services, dentistry is the most poorly
funded in terms of proportion of the market funded by government. Only private hospitals come within coo-ee
of dental services for government underfunding. Dentistry is only marginally better off than complementary and
other non PBS medicines according to the AIHW Health Expenditure Australia 2013-14 report.
Positive signs of broad government interest in oral health include increasing the reach of water
fluoridation in several jurisdictions; successive federal governments dipping their toes in the
dental funding pond with the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme, which proved to be a false
start, and then the Child Dental Benefits Schedule and National Partnership Agreement
funding of public waiting lists. These provided services to the appropriate target groups and
offer the compass for the future funding of patients attracting public funding.
Noting these signs, the ADA has developed the Australian Dental Health Plan, a wide-ranging
plan to address all target groups deserving priority status for public funding identified in
successive National Oral Health Plans. Replacing DentalAccess, it forms the basis of the ADA’s
pre-budget submission to the federal government and the pre-election wish-list to all major
political parties. I strongly encourage you to read the plan and communicate its key points to
patients, particularly if they are influential – see the ADA website ada.org.au
PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE
It’s no secret the issues keeping most dentists up at night are PHI activities, a subject
riddled with complexities and issues, none of which bode well for private practitioners.
Rest assured this is the number one issue the ADA is addressing, and while efforts to-date
have focused on exhausting government, legislative, and regulatory channels, it is evident
more must be done. The ADA will be doing just that. However, this action will only be
successful with your participation so I implore you to keep an eye on communications
from the ADA over the coming months.
The timing couldn’t be better, with the PHI seeking ministerial approval for increases in
premiums in excess of 6%.
The ADA has publicly campaigned for increased scrutiny of the annual gouges in the ‘for
profit’ sector of the PHI industry. It is pleasing the Minister for Health, the Hon. Sussan Ley
has demanded a lower increase and additional substantiation which go some way to curbing
the exploitation of dental patients by a substantial sector of the PHI industry. There will have to
be a more transparent industry before consumers can really analyse what they are getting when
purchasing general private health insurance. The game is stacked against PHI consumers until all
health funds have to publish their rebates for commonly used schedule items and to which providers.
EVOLUTION OF YOUR MEMBERSHIP
This year marks a transition in the evolution of the ADA. Research and analysis into what dentists
value most about membership has interesting insights, affirming much of the thinking of Federal
Executive and sparking action on a variety of fronts. In short this is – effective advocacy, more
accessible and relevant information, and better education.
The roadmap to deliver on these has a common theme – use technology to deliver better
information and services. On 1 July 2015 the CPD Portal was launched. Next is a total overhaul of
the ADA website to improve online services.
The launch of the new and improved website will set a benchmark for improving the way your
ADA provides services and communicates with you.
Feedback or suggestions regarding the new site is always appreciated and should be sent to
ADA NEWS BULLETIN | MARCH 2016 | 1
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