Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Politics of Pain Aussie Style

In this commentary an Australina writer opines about the lack of publically funded dentistry by the conservative Howard government:

Howard's health spending priorities help the rich and harm the poor, writes Kenneth Davidson

John Howard may be a political genius but he is also a health hazard for the poor who depend on public dentistry for the maintenance of their teeth. According to a report in The Age on Monday, one Victorian citizen has been waiting almost six years to see a public health dentist and the average waiting time has blown out to 2½ years.

Even in terms of the mad accountancy of the economic rationalist, this is a false economy.

According to a report signed by federal and state health ministers last year ("A National Oral Health Plan for Australia 2004"), in Victoria in 2000-01, dental conditions accounted for nearly 10,000 avoidable hospital admissions (given early access to appropriate dental services). Most of these admissions were for extractions due to dental caries, and they cost the state $20 million.

According to the report, Victoria is towards the bottom in terms of state and territory government commitment to public dental health. But the Bracks Government is belatedly trying to repair the situation.

According to the Victorian budget papers, the Government is increasing its expenditure on dental services from $79 million last financial year to $104 million this year. Yet even with this 32 per cent boost to spending, it is anticipated that the ratio of emergency (read extractive) to restorative dental work will only fall from 55 per cent in 2003-04 to 49 per cent in 2004-05.

But state neglect of public dental services is only part of the explanation for the gross neglect of the substantial proportion of the population who cannot afford the considerable cost of private dental services.

For the full answer we must go back to 1996, when the Howard Government abolished the Commonwealth Dental Health Program (CDHP), which was set up by the federal Labor government in 1994 to service concession-card holders, then numbering about 726,000 people.

Read the rest here.

You wonder why the LEFT has not learned the lessons that the U.K NHS has taught us.

Socialized, redistributionist dental systems do NOT work!

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