Dental programs face $45m hit, dentists say

THE dental industry has slammed what it says is a $45 million cut to oral health programs in the latest Federal Budget, and the government's promotion of a new $200 million program.

The program, announced by Health Minister Sussan Ley before the budget, is to fund national services and the child dental benefits schedule for a year while a review is completed.

She said the $200 million program would allow the reform work to be completed.

However, Australian Dental Association federal president Dr Rick Olive said the program was nothing to celebrate as it included funding for the child dental benefits schedule and this represented a $45 million cut under the National Partnerships Agreement.

He also said there was no certainty of funding beyond 2015/16 due to the "as yet unidentified reform".

Dr Olive said most claims under the child benefits scheme were bulk-billed and a freeze in rebate indexation could result in bulk-billing dentists being forced to provide services at below cost.

He said overall, the dental industry believed the budget was "uninspiring".

Dental funding has been added to the government's Federation White Paper as it is a shared responsibility across state and federal governments.