Dental and allied health reform

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The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) is reforming its dental and allied health service arrangements. These reforms were informed by a review (see Review of DVA Dental and Allied Health Arrangements — Final Report).

The reforms, announced in the 2018–19 Budget, have four main elements and will be implemented in a phased approach (see Budget 2018–19 fact sheet — Improved Dental and Allied Health).

Around 140,000 DVA cardholders who access DVA dental and allied health services will benefit through improved communication between general practitioners (GPs) and allied health service providers, access to an expanded range of services, and opportunities for enhanced complex care management.

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Four main elements

1. Technical adjustments to the fee schedules

DVA is making technical adjustments to the dental and allied health fee schedules, to upgrade them to more contemporary industry standards.

Technical adjustments to the DVA fee schedules for dentists, dental specialists and dental prosthetists, are effective from 1 November 2018. The new fee schedules align more closely to the 12th edition of The Australian Schedule of Dental Services and Glossary issued by the Australian Dental Association. The list of changes are outlined below:

Technical adjustments to other selected allied health fee schedules include:

  • Chiropractic – updated to reflect changes to Medicare spinal x-ray items (effective 1 February 2019)
  • Occupational therapy – the fee schedule has been simplified (effective 1 March 2019)
  • Speech pathology – fluid thickeners can be accessed through the Rehabilitation Appliances Program by referral from speech pathologists and GPs (effective 1 May 2019)

2. A new treatment cycle for allied health services

The allied health treatment cycle commenced on 1 October 2019. For further information, visit Allied Health Treatment Cycle

3. Trials of new funding approaches

Depending on the outcomes of the treatment cycle, DVA will develop and design up to four trials of new funding approaches for allied health services. These trials will test alternative funding approaches for selected allied health provider groups to see if outcomes can be improved for clients.

The trials will explore other approaches, such as a more case based approach that takes into account the type of treatment provided.

DVA will consult with provider associations before conducting any trials.

The trials will start in 2021, subject to savings from an expected reduction in expenditure on allied health services.

4. Upgrades to allied health schedules

Depending on the outcomes of the treatment cycle, DVA plans to make further improvements to dental and allied health fee schedules to better reflect contemporary services and better support the workforce providing dental and allied health services.

Proposed changes include addressing the following:

  1. Use of new technologies.
  2. Reflecting new therapeutic techniques to address health problems.
  3. Consistency with industry standards in order to ensure that DVA fees schedules are up to date and to help reduce red tape for providers.
  4. Opportunities to make improvements for complex care management, for those at risk of suicide, those who are homeless, and those discharging from hospital.

These upgrades will start in 2021, subject to savings from an expected reduction in expenditure on allied health services.

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