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August 3rd, 2023

FCAV successfully advocates for Medicare Dental Review to include out of home care

All children in care could become eligible for Federal government dental care funding following FCAV advocacy to have all children in care automatically eligible for Medicare Dental scheme.

The Federal Department of Health conducted a review of Dental Benefits Act 2008 in 2022 which regulates access to the scheme and released its report on 2 August 2022 .

Recommendation 17 provided that:

The Department of Health and Aged Care to work with relevant stakeholders to understand foster care and kinship care arrangements, remove access barriers if possible, and determine options for recognising alternative consent arrangements.

'The Review Committee recommends work be undertaken by the Department to explore how the CDBS could appropriately recognise foster and kinship systems, including removal of barriers (for example, through legislation changes), and pursue options for more flexible consent arrangements.’

Medicare Dental provides $1000 of dental care funding over two years for all eligible children and can be used for a wide range of dental procedures. Importantly, the funding follows the child and can be accessed regardless of placement.

Access to the scheme is currently determined by means testing the carers income which is unfair and means that children are eligible for Medicare Dental in some placements and not others. Payment of out-of-pocket medical expenses is a key carer issue which is likely to have increased in recent years due to the rising cost of living. Payment for expensive dental services places a higher financial burden on volunteer carers.

The FCAV advocated that all children in care should be automatically eligible for the scheme regardless of the carer’s income. See FCAV's recommendation through the National Collective here.

Research (including Dr Karen McLean's - suggests that children in care have significantly poorer oral health than the general population and the FCAV believes that improved access to Medicare Dental could provide an important funding boost to assist with dental care access along with publicly funded dental services.

It is expected that the recommendation will be considered over the next year.  

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