Dental care plan: dentists “negotiate” with Ottawa, according to the federal Minister of Health

Dental associations, some of which cite their reluctance in the face of the new federal dental care plan and low participation by their members, are in fact trying to negotiate with Ottawa, judges the federal Minister of Health, Mark Holland.

“They are doing their job. They negotiate. And they want to get the best deal for their members. I want to get the best deal possible for taxpayers,” he summarized Monday when he arrived at question period.

Mr. Holland rejected the idea called for by dental care providers that patients pay their dentist and then be reimbursed by Ottawa as is possible with private insurers.

“These are vulnerable people who cannot afford to pay out of pocket. It is therefore a red line,” said the minister. Mr. Holland also argued that it is important to have control mechanisms in place to prevent people from “abusing” the system.

But Ottawa is working to reduce “the administrative burden” in order to make the process “identical” to that of other insurances for the vast majority of cases. It will be “very, very simple and easy,” he promised.

Associations of dentists and hygienists are annoyed by the fees that the federal government intends to pay them, since they are lower than those they recommend to their members in their fee guides and that they bill their other patients. The minister’s office judges instead that the fees established by Ottawa are “fair”.

In Quebec, the association of dental surgeons shouts from the rooftops that the federal government is asking them to subsidize care, that patients will have to expect to pay the difference with the federal price list because dentists will continue to bill according to their usual price list.

Minister Holland, like Health Canada, categorically refused on Monday to reveal the number of dentists, independent hygienists and denturists who have registered in the program so far, contenting themselves with stating that there are “thousands “.

Mr. Holland says he wants to avoid creating “confusion” as Ottawa prepares to offer “a second option” for dental care providers to register.

According to the Canadian Dental Association, the country has approximately 25,500 licensed dentists. They practice in nearly 16,000 practices. The organization says nearly 61 per cent of dentists surveyed by their provincial associations last month indicated they had no intention of registering with the federal system.

But time is running out: The first Canadians enrolled in the program should be able to start getting their teeth cleaned and treated in May, but only from an oral health provider who has signed up to provide the care. This could result in loss of business for suppliers who refuse to participate.

Already 1.6 million registrations

Ultimately, the Canadian Dental Care Plan (RCSD), as it is known, will be, according to the minister, “the largest program in the history” of the country. It will address the nearly 9 million Canadians — or about a quarter of the population — who do not have private insurance and who have low or middle income. Ottawa has allocated an envelope of $13 billion over five years.

Care will be free provided that the dentist follows the federal government’s rate guide and the patient has an adjusted net family income of less than $70,000. Those whose income is between $70,000 and $90,000 will have to pay a share ranging from 40% to 60% of the costs. It will be mandatory to have filed your income tax return to be covered.

For several months, Ottawa has been expanding the age ranges of Canadians invited to submit an application. It is currently the turn of seniors aged 70 and over. And 1.6 million have done so to date, a toll that the government has no difficulty in calculating in this case. In Quebec, the program is particularly popular, with 576,000 registrations.

Over the course of the year, eligibility will be expanded to all people aged 65 and over, those under 18 and people living with disabilities. Those aged 18 to 64 will be able to enroll in 2025. Sun Life administers the plan.

Developing this insurance-like program was a condition of the deal that allows Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to remain in power with the support of the New Democratic Party (NDP) in key votes.

Called to react to the reluctance of dental associations, the NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, explained that Ottawa offers to cover “between 80% and 90%” of the amounts provided for in the provincial rate guides, which is “a good amount” .

Mr. Singh said he is not concerned that dentists are reluctant to register since “the same thing” happened when a health insurance scheme was introduced in the country while doctors “were against it”. And yet, he noted, this program is now working.

To watch on video

source site-42