Kevin Rudd has promised that a Labour government would inject $290 million dollars into a Commonwealth Dental Health Program. This would deliver up to one million additional dental consultations over three years for Australians in need of dental care.
Labor’s Commonwealth Dental Health Program will also offer funds to the states and territories in order to reduce the backlog of Australians needing dental care, with the condition they meet new dental care standards.
According to the 2007 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, 30% of Australians have had to neglect dental care due to the cost and 20.6% were unable to afford specific recommended dental treatments.
At the time of the program’s announcement, Kevin Rudd said: ‘Australia deserves a health care system where people can get their teeth fixed on time and affordably. Australia doesn’t have that kind of health care system at the moment.’
Since 2004 the Howard government made dental treatment available through Medicare, but only for people with chronic and complex needs such as diabetes, that might benefit from dental treatment.
Tony Abbott predicted that 200,000 people could benefit from the government’s Medicare-based system. This pales in comparison to Labor’s projected one million additional dental consultations over the next three years.
Labor’s health spokesperson, Nicola Roxon, told the Sydney Morning Herald that Labor’s plan trumps the government’s messy approach to dental care. ‘They do not have a dental scheme, they have a shambles. This is a federal government that does not take dentistry seriously,’ she said.
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