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Western Victorian families the losers as Medicare Dental gets the axe.



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Federal Member for Wannon

Hamilton Office 190 Gray St, HAMILTON VIC 3300 Warrnambool Office 73 Kepler St WARRNAMBOOL VIC 3280 Freecall 1300 131 692 E David.Hawker.MP@aph.gov.au W www.davidhawker.com.au

20 March 2008

WESTERN VICTORIAN FAMILIES THE LOSERS AS MEDICARE DENTAL GETS THE AXE

The most vulnerable in our community are once again set to be sidelined by the Labor Government as it axes Medicare Dental at the end of March, Federal Member for Wannon, David Hawker said today.

The new Medicare dental scheme which lasted only three months was taken up by 16,000 people in the last two months of 2007 alone. The scheme allowed people with complex health problems up to $4500 over two years for private dental care.

“Dentistry remains out of reach to those on low incomes with around 30 percent of Western Victorians unable to see a dentist because of cost,” Mr Hawker said.

“Dental problems cause pain and suffering for those who can’t get their problems sorted out. Living with constant pain can really take its toll on your day to day life, from the way you work to your most important relationships.

“It’s not widely known but dental disease can also contribute to the burden from diabetes, heart disease and stroke. People with dental problems often can’t eat properly, meaning worse nutrition in the very group who need to look after themselves the most.”

Mr Hawker said that instead of the Coalition’s successful Medicare dental scheme, the Labor Government is going to push dental patients into the overburdened State health system.

“Prime Minister Rudd clearly said that when it comes to health the buck stops with him, and yet he’s clearly passing the buck on dental to the States. The States have shown themselves to be incompetent in the administration of public dental care,” he said.

“Less than 10 percent of dentists currently work in the public dental system, leaving 90 percent to provide care for only those who can afford it.”

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Media contact: Jane Templeton (02) 6277 4118