OUR Federal Government, in their wisdom, have decided to close down the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme (CDDS). This scheme has been running successfully for about six years. The government has claimed it to be the “millionaire’s dental scheme”.
When it started, the scheme did not have a means test. That was how it was set up, but that can also be adjusted. In reality, there are many wives of veterans in the Veterans Affairs scheme who are millionaires, have access to a gold card, and are able to claim access to the Veteran Affairs scheme. Yet no one in the government has been proposing closing down the veterans’ scheme.
The rorting, even by Mrs Plibersek’s acknowledgment, has been “administrative errors”.
If Medicare gets a date incorrect, that is simply a clerical error, but if the dentist does not send a report to the referring doctor, it is called fraud and rorting the scheme.
The fact is that the CDDS has been a very successful scheme for low-income, compromised patients. It has given access to good dentistry to over a million underprivileged patients. They have been so appreciative, because they attained some decent and up-to-date dental care. At the close of this scheme, they will be going back to the desolation of no care, long work, lists, and compromised service.
Patients under this scheme, and especially those in regional areas, were able to access dental services from their local dentist and the dentist would charge the fee to Medicare, sometimes with a gap payment, and sometimes without.
The proposed new scheme is to put these patients back onto the Public Dental Service at public hospitals. This proposed new service and its funding does not commence until 2014. These patients now have to go back to the public system; back to ridiculously long waiting lists.
Then, when the new 2014 “you beaut” scheme begins, these patients still can only attain services through the public system. This is a system that cannot cope now, and never will be able to cope.
The new scheme states that there will be more money thrown at the public system, but they still, like the Medicare services in the regional areas, will not be able to staff these services. So, again, it will be the long waiting lists and compromised services.
These dental patients, and all dental patients, should be concerned. Dental treatment is going back to the dark ages.
Though the government has announced this new scheme, it still has to go through Parliament. This occurs in the next week. Therefore, we ask you to somehow, in your publication, allow concerned dental patients to voice their opposition to these changes, by signing a petition. We want as many people as possible to sign, as this naturally targets the voting power of the independents: Mr Windsor, Mr Oakeshott and Mr Wilkie.
The government has the right to change, modify, and cease a scheme, but it is immoral to cease a system with a 2014 “never-never”’ quasi plan.
The CDDS could be a stepping stone towards a universal dental scheme. They should not be allowed to destroy a working scheme when their only other option is dubious funding in 2014. As a modern country with a sense of fair play, we deserve better. Much better.