When John Kostoulias, representing the peak Victorian body for Greek seniors, wrote to Scott Morrison in July, little did he know that he would receive not one but two responses to his letter, despite their request not given the green light by the Government.
The President of the Federation of Greek Elderly Citizen Clubs of Melbourne and Victoria wrote to the Australian Prime Minister asking him to consider the inclusion of dental care in Medicare.
“Extravagant dental treatments are often considered a luxury for pensioners, who are, in many cases, left with poor hygiene, resulting in creating additional health problems[…] The Bulk Billing available through the Community Dental Services is very helpful, however, is not as efficient for seniors, due to long waiting period,” reads an excerpt of the letter.
Mr Kostoulias also refered to the “overload and extra expenditure” for public hospitals, to support the case.
In late August, the issue was responded to by the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Ben Morton, who authored a letter on behalf of the Prime Minister.
While acknowledging the advocacy efforts by the Federation and “the very difficult time for many of our elderly citizens, including those from the Greek-Australian community”, as well as the importance of dental health services, Mr Morton noted that “there are no current plans to bring dental under Medicare”.
The Minister brought forward a number of other Government related commitments, including the $107.8m funding announced in July for a one year extension to the National Partnership Agreement on Public Dental Services for Adults.
Although the Federation’s request for the inclusion of dental services in Medicare remains unmet, Mr Kostoulias received a double reply to his letter, with Mr Borton’s letter following an earlier response by the Prime Minister.
Mr Morrison’s personal message addressed the comments made by Mr Kostoulias about the Government’s response to the pandemic thanking the Prime Minister for his work and expressing appreciation for the extra payment of $1,500 for pensioners on behalf of the Federation’s 22,000 members.
In response, Mr Morrison wrote in a letter signed 16 July:
Dear Mr Kostoulias
Thank you for writing to me about the Government’s response to the coronavirus.
I appreciate your kind words.
We are facing twin crises: a health crisis and an economic crisis. We are responding to them
simultaneously and in real time.
I am grateful to my Ministers and colleagues, the National Cabinet of Premiers and Chief
Ministers, and the Australian people. We are all working together to save lives and
Our country is making good progress but I know there is a long way to go.
Thank you again for your encouragement.