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HEALTH—MEDICARE CHRONIC DISEASE DENTAL SCHEME—AUDITS—REPORT—ORDER FOR PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENT

Senator Fierravanti-Wells, also on behalf of Senator Di Natale, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved general business notice of motion no. 595—That the Senate—

 (a) notes that:

  (i) Medicare Australia has completed only 62 audits of the 11 469 dentists who have participated in the Medicare Chronic Disease Dental Scheme (the scheme),

  (ii) currently between 419 and 556 audits are in process,

  (iii) of the 62 completed audits, 41 dental practitioners have been found to be non-compliant with the scheme,

  (iv) most of the dentists who have been found to be non-compliant have failed to provide paperwork required by the scheme, but have carried out the treatments for which Medicare benefits have been claimed,

  (v) of the 41 who are non-compliant, only eight have been found to have claimed Medicare benefits for services that had not been provided, and

  (vi) Medicare Australia acknowledges that those eight dentists may have provided the outstanding services at a later date, but had not done so at the time of the audit;

 (b) fully supports the Government pursuing appropriate action against any practitioner who has defrauded the Commonwealth by not providing services for which rebates were claimed;

 (c) given the information provided to the Senate on 18 October 2011 by the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing (Senator Ludwig) and by Medicare Australia at estimates hearings on 20 October 2011, calls on the Government to:

  (i) acknowledge that non-compliance errors in the scheme appear, in many cases to this point in time, to be minor and technical in nature,

  (ii) require Medicare Australia to desist from demanding full repayment of all Medicare benefits from dental practitioners in such circumstances where non-compliance is of an administrative nature only,


  (iii) require Medicare Australia to halt all recovery action against dentists until a full reassessment of all current audit results has been carried out to consider whether a warning or smaller penalty would be a more appropriate response, and

  (iv) recognise that the vast majority of dentists act in good faith in providing much needed services under the scheme;

 (d) orders that there be laid on the table by the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing and the Minister representing the Minister for Human Services, by 5 pm on Tuesday, 7 February 2012, a full report from Medicare Australia on:

  (i) the actions taken against the 41 dentists so far found to be non-compliant with the scheme,

  (ii) the options available to Medicare Australia in each case,

  (iii) the options considered by Medicare Australia in each case, and

  (iv) reasons for the course of action decided on;

 (e) holds grave concerns regarding the actions of Medicare Australia against dental practitioners for apparent minor and technical breaches of the scheme; and

 (f) calls on the Government to convey these concerns to Medicare Australia.

Question put and passed.