A cautious welcome

IDA warns the Department of Social Protection that PRSI dental benefits changes need to be discussed

The Irish Dental Association (IDA) has welcomed news that PRSI dental benefits are set to be extended but warned that talks still need to take place before any proposed changes come into force.

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar revealed that the scheme was being expanded to self-employed workers and farmers from March 2017 and then, later in the year, for all insured employees and the self-employed.

IDA chief executive 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 cautioned that he wanted to see talks between the association and the Department of Social Protection before any changes were brought into play.

He said: “Very few details are available 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 Government 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.”

The extended PRSI scheme will now include a free annual dental examination and scale and polish.

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