Coalition, Greens urge govt to wipe dentists’ $21.5m debt

Medicare has ordered 46 of 89 dentists it audited under the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme (CDDS) to repay money after it found they had not complied with the rules of the Howard government program. Breaches could include failing to submit a copy of the GP’s referral letter. 

Last week, opposition health spokesman Peter Dutton introduced a private member’s bill to effectively wipe the debt of dentists deemed to have made “technical breaches” only.

That bill is yet to succeed, but a similar, though non-binding, motion led by the Greens was passed by the Senate last week with Coalition support.

AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said audits were “entirely appropriate” for a relatively new scheme like the CDDS but all health practitioners, including dentists, should be dealt with “educationally” rather than “punitively” if breaches were purely technical.

“If the audit