A Rudd Government push to dismantle a generous dental scheme used by HIV-positive people has failed for a second time.

The Enhanced Primary Care Dental Scheme for people with chronic conditions was given a boost in the final months of the Howard government where a HIV-positive person could seek up to $2,165 a year in services from any dentist through Medicare.

In June and again two weeks ago the Government tried to repeal that scheme in favour of a $290 million scheme that would attempt to reduce dental waiting lists for all people, but both attempts were blocked in the Senate by the Opposition and minor parties.

This [Medicare] program is helping thousands of Australians who have been accessing these health services, in some cases for the first time, Greens senator Rachel Siewert told Parliament.

The government needs to come back with a better funding proposal for their dental scheme.

But the government was defiant, claiming usage of the existing scheme was highly skewed to some states and not others.

It had failed abysmally. It had also been wrongly targeted and it allowed people to gain access to a system that they did not need because they could afford it themselves, Labor Senator Joe Ludwig said.
It is a program that needs to be closed down and it needs the Senate to do so.

The Government must wait another six months before it can try the push again.

HIV advocate groups such as ACON praised the existing Medicare scheme because it meant the most vulnerable could skip the lengthy dental queues at public hospitals.

Attempt to have all work done before 17 March 2009. The Government will more than likely introduce a bill to disband the scheme as soon as they can after this date, ACON’s advice to clients stated.

Have your say: Should people with HIV get free dental work?

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