Overall, "The Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes Volume II" (also known as An Bord Snip Nua) recommends 5.3 billion euros ($7.5 billion) in spending cuts. This includes eliminating the country's Dental Treatment Benefits Scheme (DTBS):
Treatment Benefit is funded by payments from the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) and contributes to the costs of dental, optical treatment, and hearing aids. The group holds the view that given the other pressures on the SIF (such as unemployment and pension payments) continuation of the scheme is no longer affordable. The group also notes that this scheme may have contributed to higher prices for dental and optical benefits.
The full-year savings for this measure would be 92 million euros ($130 million), according to the report.
While the IDA is prepared to discuss reforms, "it will not allow the unilateral destruction of dental services," the association stated in a press release.
"Dental services in Ireland are the most underfunded section of the health services, and the abolition of the DTBS would remove one of the very few financial supports given to patients seeking dental treatment," IDA Chief Executive Fintan Hourihan stated in the release. "The consequence in terms of discouraging dental visits may well lead to higher costs for the state dental services at the end of the day and would certainly impact negatively on oral health in general."
While the association will reserve making a full response to the proposals until such time as they have been studied and considered in depth, its "initial response is deep shock at the suggestion that the DTBS be abolished and the proposal to effectively dismantle the medical card scheme," Hourihan added.
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