ADAVB Chief Executive Officer's Comments
April 2019 Hide Comments
Federal election: What it might mean for us

It’s anyone’s guess when the federal election will be held. In fact, it’s possible that it may have happened before this even goes to print, such is the volatility in Canberra at the moment. All signs are pointing to a Bill Shorten Labor Government, but we have seen parties lose unlosable elections in the past. So what could a Shorten Labor Government mean for dentists?
The Grattan Institute held a policy pitch event ‘Filling the dental gap’ to promote greater public funding of dental care. Professor Stephen Duckett argued that two million Australians avoid or delay visiting a dentist due to cost. He noted that on average, patients pay 58 per cent of the cost of dental treatment out-of-pocket, compared with around 12–13 per cent for primary health care and prescription medicines, and only five per cent for hospital care.
The Grattan Institute proposes a targeted dental scheme that would replace existing public dental programs and the Child Dental Benefits Schedule. The initial plan would cover approximately 9.7 million people, including children and families eligible for Family Tax Benefit A, and Health Care Card and Pension Concession Card holders and their children.
All eligible patients would be able to receive up to $1000 of basic dental care over a two-year period, with exclusions for cosmetic services and orthodontic treatment. Treatment would be provided in both the public and private sector.
It is estimated that this would cost an additional $1 billion per year after repurposing around $2 billion that is currently spent on dental care by state and Commonwealth governments. It is anticipated this would then be the precursor to a fully universal scheme for all Australians, at a total cost of around $5.5 billion per year.
Interestingly, there are similarities between this proposal and the ADA Australian Dental Health Plan that was released a number of years ago, and that ADA again highlighted in their Federal Budget submission this year. ADA called on the Federal Government to introduce a targeted dental benefits scheme for those adults who receive Family Tax Benefit A and/or a range of other federal government payments.
It remains to be seen whether this is taken up as a federal election issue by any of the major parties.
A/Prof Matt Hopcraft

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Clinical A/Prof Matthew Hopcraft
Chief Executive Officer
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