The Federal opposition has thrown its weight behind a campaign to publicise Medicare’s pursuit of dentists who have to repay benefits received under the Medicare Chronic Diseases Dental Scheme. Yesterday Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton visited the Brunswick Family Dental Clinic in Melbourne where dentist Dr Helen Arabatzis has been presented with a claim for repayment of more than $700,000 by Medicare.
Dr Arabatzis has said the claim could force closure of the practice which includes eight dentists and a staff of more than 20.
Meanwhile in Tasmania, a dentist facing a $24,000 bill from Medicare has told the ABC she is the target of a witch hunt. Dr Wilma Johnson has been ordered to repay benefits she received under the Medicare Chronic Diseases Dental Scheme.
She said four of her Tasmanian colleagues are in a similar position, simply because of minor paperwork errors. Dr Johnson says Medicare has assessed her errors as ‘inconsequential’.
The Shadow Minister for Health Peter Dutton said the Government’s actions could force the closure of vital dental practices and the loss of services to some of the most in-need patients.
Mr Dutton accused Health Minister Nicola Roxon of seeking to vilify dentists because of Labor’s ideological determination to close the Medicare Chronic Disease Scheme.
Dr Shane Fryer, President of the ADA, has previously said that the Association has had serious concerns with the overzealous manner in which Medicare audits have been conducted on dentists who have provided care to patients within the Scheme.
“The ADA feels that the Government should be instructing the Medicare auditors to stop pursuing dentists who have provided quality care to patients within the Scheme but who have made errors in completing some of the administrative requirements of the Scheme,” Dr Fryer says.
The ADA states that aggressive action taken over absent paperwork and the financial claims Medicare has lodged against a number of dentists has placed dentists under financial strain and potentially the threat of bankruptcy, despite patients receiving the care they needed.
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