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Health Insurance (Dental Services) Bill 2012

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Health Insurance (Dental Services) Bill 2012


Explanatory Memorandum






The Bill requires the Minister for Health, in conjunction with such other Ministers as may be necessary, to redress past and future inequities that have arisen from the operation of subsection 10(2) of the Health Insurance (Dental Services) Determination 2007 .


The Bill describes the inequities imposed on dental practitioners by the operation of the subsection of the Determination and specifies five courses of action which the Minister can take to redress those inequities.


It establishes a timeframe in which action is to be taken and requires a report to be tabled in both Houses of Parliament detailing the actions taken.





Clause 1 - Short title


Clause 1 provides for the Act to be cited as the Health Insurance (Dental Services) Act 2012.



Clause 2 - Commencement


This clause sets out the commencement date of the Bill as the day of Royal Assent.



Clause 3 - Definitions


Clause 3 specifies the definitions for “dental practitioner”, “Determination”, “inequity” and “medicare benefit”.



Clause 4 - Minister must redress inequity


Clause 4 specifies that the Minister must take action to redress past and future inequities arising from the operation of subsection 10(2) of the Health Insurance (Dental Services) Determination 2007 and sets a timeframe within which the Minister must act.



Clause 5 - Meaning of inequity


Clause 5 defines the inequity. The inequity is that a dental practitioner who has legitimately provided a dental service and claimed a Medicare benefit as payment, is required to repay the benefit where they did not provide a patient before commencing treatment with a written plan of their course of treatment and a written quotation, or failed to give copies of these documents to the referring doctor.



Clause 6 - Action Minister must take


Clause 6 specifies the action the Minister must take to redress this inequity. It provides that this action be one or more of the following:

·          an amendment to the determination along the lines of the amendment set in Schedule 1 of the Bill;

·          waiving the right to repayment of medicare benefits;

·          making act of grace payments;

·          providing for the inequity to be addressed through the income tax system;

·          taking such other action as is necessary to redress the inequity.



Clause 7 - Minister must report to Parliament


Clause 7 requires the Minister to prepare reports on the action taken to redress past and future inequities that arise from the operation of subsection 10(2) of the Health Insurance (Dental Services) Determination 2007 and table those reports in each House of Parliament within 15 sitting days of the period in which the action must be taken. It provides for tabling of a single report.






Schedule 1 - Amendments


Item 1: At the end of section 10


This item proposes an amendment to section 10 of the Determination to allow for circumstances where a Medicare benefit can be paid where a written quotation was not provided prior to treatment. These circumstances include: that the dentist did not know about the requirement to provide a written quotation, did not fully understand the requirement, or was under a reasonable misapprehension about the need to comply with the requirement.


Item 2: When services are taken to be provided


This applies the amendment in item 1, so that eligible services provided prior to the commencement of the Schedule are covered by the amendment.


Item 3: Future amendment of Determination


This provides for the Determination to be amended in the normal way in the future.