Cuts will cause real pain and suffering
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