Basic dental care for all Australians is critical to health and wellbeing and is core to the Greens health policy, Greens Deputy Leader, Christine Milne said today.
"It seems that the Greens are the only ones who think that teeth are a part of the body and should be covered by a Medicare type scheme. No doubt Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott can afford to have their teeth looked after but what about the thousands who cannot?
"Tasmanians are part of the 30% of Australians who are turned away from dental care because they cannot afford it: Part of the many who suffer poor health and a loss of confidence because of bad teeth.
"The Greens will deliver a national dental scheme that addresses the need for preventative, diagnostic and restorative services as indicated by the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission.
"The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare costing analysis indicates that the net savings from a national dental scheme would be tens of millions of dollars. Our system makes good clinical and financial sense. It's time to deliver Denticare."
"This and every Australian government before it has placed such a scheme into the ‘too hard' basket, but that excuse will not wash anymore with thousands of Australians forced to wait in the poorly funded public system."
"30 years ago there were those who considered Medicare a step too far, now it is the Labor and Coalition parties who remain opposed. It is the Greens who possess the political will to deliver this vital dental scheme.
"Oral health contributes to overall general health, and reduces overall health costs to government."
Greens Denison candidate, Dr Geoff Couser, says the knock-on effect of an inadequate dental service is affecting the efficiency of hospital emergency departments.
"Emergency departments are being forced to deal with patients with poor oral health who are seeking the publicly funded treatment they should be receiving from their dentist.
"These patients are often in acute pain, and in need of hospitalisation with serious medical conditions derived from dental problems that have gone untreated."
Senator Milne says this problem cannot be ignored anymore.
"The current system is false economy and cost shifting. The Commonwealth thinks by funding only 18% of dentistry it saves money but in effect it is bleeding the hospital system of human and financial resources."