CDBS expected to close by the end of the year
It is increasingly likely that the Child Dental Benefits Schedule will close on 31 December this year.
Amendments to the Dental Benefits Act 2008, which will close the CDBS and enact its replacement the Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme (caPDS), are before the House of Representatives, with a vote expected in the next sitting week commencing Monday 5 September.
While it is expected these amendments will pass through the Lower House, the make-up of the new Senate means that its passage through that House cannot be predicted with absolute certainty.
However, given the Government's determination to close the Scheme, which it first flagged in March this year, the ADA is urging practices to contact their patients and strongly encourage them to book any CDBS-eligible children in for treatment prior to the advised closure date.
An assurance has been given that benefits will be paid for any eligible services provided on or before 31 December 2016.
While the government is promoting the caPDS as an equitable replacement for the CDBS which will provide services to children and concession cardholder adults, the ADA continues to maintain that insufficient funding assistance is being provided to the states and territories who will administer the new scheme.
The ADA is continuing to work closely with the Opposition and crossbenchers to address issues regarding the reduced accessibility of rural Australians to dental services under the new scheme and the need for a voucher scheme if patients cannot be seen within three months.
The amended Act makes it clear that funding for both CDBS and caPDS will be capped at $175 million for the 2016-17 financial year, which means that if there is significant utilisation of the CDBS in its final four months, there will be little left for the public system.
The new funding model will place an unfair burden on the public healthcare system, profoundly disadvantaging the oral health of the most at-risk Australians.