The Irish Dental Association has given a cautious welcome to the announcement that PRSI dental benefits are to be extended to self employed workers and farmers from March 2017.
The Minister for Social Protection also announced that as part of Budget 2017, PRSI dental benefits will be expanded by this time next year for all insured employees and the self-employed.
The Chief Executive of the IDA Fintan Hourihan said dentists have been campaigning for the return of grant in aid benefits to hard pressed workers and their families since savage unilateral cuts were made to the Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme in 2010.
However he warned that the Department of Social Protection will have to engage in talks with the IDA before any proposed changes come into force.
“Very few details are available at this stage on the precise nature of Minister Varadkar’s proposals. Dentists are not currently contracted to treat the self-employed so this will require contract talks to take place between the Department and the IDA. Separate negotiations on the other proposed changes, so far unspecified, for currently eligible PRSI contributors will also be required.”
“Recently the IDA warned the Department of Social Protection that any changes or proposed new scheme would have to be guided by best practice. Any changes will also need to be evidence based for patients as well as being economically viable for dentists” Mr Hourihan said.
The IDA will be making a detailed submission as part of the consultation process announced by Minister Noonan in advance of the introduction of a ‘sugar tax’. The Association has already commissioned research on the likely outcome the introduction of a ‘sugar tax’ would have in this country.
Mr Hourihan said whatever the outcome of that research the Association will be calling for any revenues generated by such a tax to be directed towards oral healthcare programmes.