The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, joined Dr Len Crocombe and Dr Jess Manuela from the Australian Dental Association Tasmania Branch to condemn the Federal Government’s intention to axe the Child Dental Benefits Schedule, which will be especially bad for Tasmania.
“The Federal Government’s intention to axe the Child Dental Benefits Schedule is the latest step in the systematic dismantling of universal health care in Australia,” Mr Wilkie said.
“Whether it’s cutting funding to public hospitals, trying to introduce a GP co-payment, or the recent cuts to optometry or pathology, the Abbott-Turnbull Government seems determined to move Australia’s health care system towards a US-style user-pays model.
“The Child Dental Benefits Schedule provides subsidised dental care for up to 3.4 million children. If you take it away there’s no doubt that these children’s health will suffer.
“We know that Tasmania has the worst oral health outcomes in Australia. And we know that the more remote and lower socio-economic status of the area, the poorer oral health gets.
“Moreover it’s a false economy to supposedly save money by axing this scheme, because research shows that it’s far cheaper to prevent dental problems occurring as soon as possible, rather than hospitalisations or corrective treatments later in life. Indeed in Tasmania the number one cause of preventable hospitalisations is dental conditions.
“I call on the Health Minister to continue funding for the Child Dental Benefits Schedule beyond June this year, and to look seriously at what we need to do to improve our health care system rather than just looking for item after item to cut.”