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Government's subsidised dental care plan cautiously welcomed

26 April 2016
Healthy public policy is making headlines

The University of Sydney’s Dean of Dentistry, Professor Chris Peck has cautiously welcomed the federal government’s plan to spend $5 billion over four years subsidising a public dental scheme it hopes will provide treatment to more than 10 million people.

The newly announced national Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme will ensure every Australian child – and millions of low-income adults – is eligible for subsidised dental care.

The $5 billion injection into frontline dental health funding includes $2.1 billion for the Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme (caPDS).

“It's welcome news that there's to be increased funding for dental care,” Professor Peck said. “On the face of it, the plan to offer subsidised care through the public system to all children and low income adults will lead to better health for Australians. 

On the face of it, the plan to offer subsidised care through the public system to all children and low income adults will lead to better health for Australians.
Professor Chris Peck

“Further detail is needed on the actual subsidy, the public system's capacity and services provided. There needs to be demonstrable improvements over current arrangements, which include the child dental benefits schedule and national partnership agreement which amount to about $440 million this financial year.

“Legislating this new Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme (caPDS) will help provide some consistency in resourcing dental care although the agreement with states is only for five years. Further, the scheme will simplify commonwealth/state funding agreements that will hopefully streamline processes. 

“Focusing on children and high need adults is a logical first step to a staged approach of integrating oral health into health more broadly. It provides a wonderful opportunity to focus on preventive dental care, particularly to children, to help establish healthy behaviour into the future. 

“The scheme will be delivered through public dental services, however most dental care in Australia is currently provided through private dental practices. Therefore, this new announcement provides an opportunity for new models of service delivery that could better integrate public and private dentistry.” 

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