A dental program introduced by the provincial government last year to provide certain services to low-income families has proven to be too popular for the government’s new plan to cut back on costs.
The Adult Dental Program has seen an unprecedented uptake among eligible clients over the past year, according to a news release from the Department of Health and Community Services.
It was meant to provide select diagnostic and therapeutic dental services to eligible clients once every three years and dentures every eight years, but now government says to ensure the program can continue to offer dental and denture services, effective March 6 a prior approval process will be put in place and an annual per person cap will be implemented on April 1 to keep the program sustainable into the future.
“While our objective is to serve as many people as we can with our social programs, it is our responsibility to ensure that our programs are sustainable in the long term and on budget,” said Susan Sullivan, Minister of Health and Community Services. “This program has far exceeded our initial expectations so it is prudent that we implement this new policy so we can continue to offer these valuable services.”
The program was designed for individuals enrolled in three plans under the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program — the Foundation Plan, Access Plan, and the 65+ Plan.
In a release in June 2011, government said the program was to involve a $6.1 million annual investment.
Government now says they will operate the prior approval process that will allow clients and providers the ability to design and develop dental treatment plans, as well as prioritize needed services. The prior approval process will approve clients up to the limit of the existing budget, minus funding specifically allocated for exceptional or emergency cases throughout the year.
Prior approval will not be required for eligible exams and x-rays. All denture work currently in progress as of March 6 will be honoured without prior approval in order to conclude services. A portion of the annual budget will also be reserved for these services.
In addition, the per person cap will allow clients to receive up to $150 in basic dental services and $750 in dentures each year, for services eligible under the program.
Government says the cap will ensure that more beneficiaries will have access to services each year within the allocated budget of the program.