$4.1 Billion Australian Government Dental Health Reform Program
On 28 August 2012 the Australian Government announced a $4.1 billion dental reform package that will provide more than three million children with government-subsidised dental care, in the same way they’re now entitled to Medicare-funded GP visits. The reform package will also provide dental services to more than one million low income adults and Australians in rural and remote areas, focusing especially on pensioners.
The suite of reforms includes three initiatives: A child dental benefits schedule; a national partnership agreement for adult public dental services; and a flexible grants program. These are detailed below.
Child Dental Benefits Schedule
The Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) will commence from 1 January 2014. This $2.7 billion measure will provide a Commonwealth funded capped benefit entitlement for basic dental services for children. Around 3.4 million children aged 2-17 in families who meet a means test will be eligible for benefits each year. The means test will be the same as the existing Medicare Teen Dental Plan (MTDP), which requires receipt of Family Tax Benefit Part A or other certain government payments. The CDBS will replace the MTDP from 1 January 2014.
Services for basic essential dental treatment, such as check-ups, x-rays, fillings and extractions will be included in the CDBS. High end (crowns, bridges, root canal) and orthodontic items are excluded. The total benefit entitlement will be capped at $1,000 per child over a two year period.
National Partnership Agreement for adult public dental services
The Government will provide $1.3 billion to states and territories from 1 July 2014 under a National Partnership Agreement (NPA) to expand services for adults in the public dental system. The funding will assist up to 1.4 million low income adults to receive dental services. This measure builds on the 2012-13 Dental Waiting List NPA, which is focused on treating the 400,000 adults currently on public dental waiting lists. The NPA will provide longer-term certainty and will allow the public system to move away from a focus on emergency crisis management to prevention and oral health promotion.
The NPA’s deliverables will be customised for each state and territory depending on the demonstrated local needs and progress under the 2012-13 Dental Waiting List NPA.
Flexible grants program
Under the Flexible Grants Program a total of $225 million will be provided for dental infrastructure (both capital and workforce) in outer metropolitan, rural and regional areas to assist in reducing access barriers for people living in these areas. The grants may also be used for targeted programs to address other gaps in service delivery.
Examples of projects that could be funded include: innovative models of care to help reach people in more isolated locations; building new public dental clinics in regional centres; refurbishing ageing clinics; and dental facilities in aged care accommodation.
Organisations from the public and private sector will be able to apply. Further details on eligibility will be available in 2014 when the Department publishes the Invitation to Apply for funding under the Program.
To assist suppliers of quality dental product understand how these programs will translate into sales of dental product, the Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA) has commissioned Independent Economics to provide forecasts on likely impacts of sales volumes. This data will be published at the 2012 ADIA Industry Connect Conference.
To keep up to date with changes to the commercial and technical environment follow ADIA on Twitter @AusDental and for more information on individual projects, please contact ADIA via email at email@example.com or by telephone on 1300 943 094 (internationally on +61 2 9319 5631).