Cuts will cause real pain and suf­fer­ing

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

Af­ter years of the pro­vin­cial Poverty Re­duc­tion Strat­egy mak­ing pro­gres­sive im­prove­ments to our New­found­land and Labrador health care and so­cial safety net, the Dwight Ball/Cathy Ben­nett/ Dr. John Hag­gie Lib­er­als have cut the Adult Ba­sic Den­tal Pro­gram!

Cover­age for clients of the N.L. Pro­vin­cial Drug Pro­gram (NLPDP) un­der the Ac­cess and 65+ plans is ter­mi­nated.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Eric Hoskins’ (Lib­eral) gov­ern­ment health re­form study in On­tario: “En­sur­ing low in­come peo­ple get pre­ven­tive oral care will re­duce visits to hospi­tal emer­gency rooms, im­prove health out­comes and re­duce acute care health costs.” (From “Health re­form in On­tario must in­clude oral health,” Toronto Star, May 19, 2016).

Den­tists are not part of the pri­mary health-care sys­tem and physi­cians are not trained to deal with mouth dis­eases, such as those that af­fect teeth and gums.

Pri­mary mouth care is not cov­ered un­der MCP. With the ex­cep­tion of the Sur­gi­cal Den­tal Pro­gram (for med­i­cal ne­ces­sity) N.L. has only pub­lic den­tal pro­grams for so­cial as­sis­tance re­cip­i­ents who are cov­ered un­der the NLPDP Foun­da­tion Plan.

While On­tario is mov­ing ahead with health- care re­form, the Dwight Ball Lib­er­als are mov­ing back­wards! In my opin­ion, the elim­i­na­tion of the N.L. Adult Den­tal Pro­gram is a short­sighted, back­ward and hurt­ful move to our so­ci­ety’s most vul­ner­a­ble res­i­dents.

Dr. An­thony Patey, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the New­found­land and Labrador Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion says, “if a pa­tient can’t af­ford the ex­trac­tion or fill­ing, the rot just has to stay there, pain­ing and be­com­ing more in­fected, spread­ing its in­fec­tion through­out the body un­til the per­son is ad­mit­ted to a hospi­tal op­er­at­ing room where it will prob­a­bly cost gov­ern­ment thou­sands of dol­lars to deal with a prob­lem that could have been rec­ti­fied with a $100 fill­ing.”

He de­scribed it as “sad for the sys­tem and sad for the pa­tient.”

Patey and NDP MHA Lor­raine Michael are both con­cerned about those who can­not get den­tures and, without teeth or den­tures, how their diet/nu­tri­tion is af­fected. Michael makes a good point: “If you can­not chew prop­erly, it is al­most im­pos­si­ble to get ba­sic nu­tri­tion.” The psy­cho­log­i­cal ef­fects can be dev­as­tat­ing.

In her col­umn in the Com­pass July 20, Pa­tri­cia Cullen wrote: “Im­pact of cuts to the Adult Den­tal Pro­gram will be felt. There is no thought given to the se­nior or low-in­come earner who have mouth­fuls of rot­ting teeth and lack the money for fill­ings and ex­trac­tions. They are forced into a cy­cle of mis­ery, pain and in­fec­tion which, if left un­treated, will kill them.”

When medi­care was in­tro­duced, pri­mary mouth care was left out. Now we know that you can­not be truly healthy if you have dis­eases in the mouth/teeth.

As for­mer pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, Dr. Hag­gie knows full well that poverty and peo­ple’s in­abil­ity to af­ford den­tal care is a so­cial de­ter­mi­nant of what makes New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans sick!

The Ball Lib­er­als are de­lib­er­ately leav­ing our low-in­come se­niors and the work­ing poor with se­ri­ous den­tal is­sues in pain when that pain can be so eas­ily al­le­vi­ated. This is in­hu­mane and morally un­ac­cept­able!

Pre­mier Dwight Ball, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Cathy Ben­nett, Health Min­is­ter Dr. John Hag­gie and the other Lib­eral MHAs - re­verse your gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to cut the Adult Ba­sic Den­tal Pro­gram!

The Ball Lib­er­als are de­lib­er­ately leav­ing our low-in­come se­niors and the work­ing poor with se­ri­ous den­tal is­sues in pain when that pain can be so eas­ily al­le­vi­ated.

Ed­ward Saw­don writes from St. John’s

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