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Thursday 09 October, 02008

Dental (Un)Care in NZ and the Gloriousness of Jim Anderton

by Eliza @ 5:46 pm

Listen to Jim Anderton on National Radio today

He’s on The Panel (Part 2), and he doesn’t come on for a few minutes – you have to fast forward through Joanne Black discussing the dangers of swollen rivers (unless you’re interested in that kind of thing, and it is pretty interesting – did you know that a doubling of the velocity of a river results in a 60-fold increase in the amount of mass it can move? Amazing. Anyway…)

Anderton is proposing a gradual subsidising of dental care. This could be implemented by incrementally providing subsidies to groups according to need, starting with young children and pregnant women (no biases here), much as subsidies for seeing your GP were rolled out.

Currently, only dental care for school students is subsidised. This cover has not been extended since 1948. Why? There are many New Zealanders who cannot afford to visit the dentist, and their overall health is suffering as a consequence (dental problems are strongly linked to other health problems, often causally).

There were three things that really impressed me as I was listening to him:

  1. His proposal makes sense, it’s realistic and it would help us to have better dental health and better health overall.
  2. He listens to questions and answers them. He seems to know what he’s talking about, and he doesn’t just seem to be politically manoeuvring all the time.
  3. He really does care about the well-being of all New Zealanders. For example, he is appalled that there are members of our society who are reduced to queuing at 5am in the Emergency Department of Middlemore Hospital, so they can (if they’re lucky enough to be amongst the first 30 people waiting) be given a pain killer and have their tooth pulled. Aren’t you?

5 Responses to “Dental (Un)Care in NZ and the Gloriousness of Jim Anderton”

  1. dennis bartlett says:

    yes but not enough to vote for him………..it is a good idea tho no doubt someone will pinch it especially if you badger them

  2. richie_f says:

    I agree that providing dental subsidies to school students alone seems arbitrary.

    Our government is the self-appointed arbiter of which kinds of heathcare are important to us and which aren’t. It’s frustrating when it gets things like this consistently wrong despite the droning voices of common sense like Jim’s.

    A bit like a master who, on a whim, rewards one servant and tortures the other.

    I would also like to make the observation that this is the most enthralling and well-written piece that I have read on mhjb.co.nz for a good many years. Thank you.

  3. Eliza says:

    Dear Dennis,

    There’s no point voting for Jim Anderton, which I think is unfortunate. During the economics debate on Nat Rad on Sun he said, roughly, that one thing that bothers him about this election campaign is that there’s “too much, ‘what’s in it for me?'” and not enough of looking out for the needier or more vulnerable members of society. Go Jim!

    I don’t think there’s much point badgering anyone about increased spending these days, either. Apparently extension of paid parental leave was to have been Labour’s next move pre-axing any more spending committments.

  4. Eliza says:

    Dear Richie,

    Yes, I’ll agree the standard’s generally low. We’ve all got to do our bit. But I don’t think the goverment gets things consistently wrong re healthcare. Examples?

  5. richie_f says:

    Like not extending dental cover since 1948, of course!

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