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Public health services welcome dental bill

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Public health services welcome dental bill

13 September 2012

The Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association (AHHA) today welcomed the introduction of the Dental Benefits Amendment Bill 2012 into Federal Parliament. This Bill will enable eligible families to receive subsidised dental care for their children and teenagers under 18.

The Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association is the independent peak membership body and advocate for the Australian healthcare system and a national voice for universally accessible, high quality healthcare.

“This is an important step in progress to a comprehensive dental and oral health program which will deliver long overdue improvements in access to dental care for children and vulnerable adults,” Ms Prue Power AM, AHHA CEO said today.

“The AHHA has advocated for many years for improved funding and access to dental care. The challenge of introducing significant reform in the current fiscal environment is recognized and the current investment is laying a solid foundation for an expanded universal access program in the future.

“We also know that, over the long term, an investment in dental health services will save money through preventing avoidable hospital admissions and increasing productivity. Poor dental health can cause a range of health and social problems, including chronic illnesses, social difficulties and barriers to entering employment. In fact, currently, health economists estimate that untreated dental problems cost our community around $2 billion a year.

“Improving access to dental care will help reduce the rising rate of tooth decay among Australian children in the 16 years since the Commonwealth Dental Program was cut in 1996. It will also help reduce inequity in our community by closing the gap between access to dental care between the rich and poor.

“Improving the oral health of our children should be a high priority health issue for all sides of politics. A generation of children from low and middle income families have grown up without adequate support for accessing dental care. This Bill will give families the assistance they need to ensure their children develop and maintain good oral and dental health throughout their childhood and teenage years.

“AHHA congratulates the Government and the Greens on this initiative and urges the Opposition to support this important piece of legislation,” Ms Power said.

For more information/comment: Ms Prue Power, CEO AHHA, 0417 419 857