Stoney Creek dentist, ODA president Victor Kutcher says provincial dental programs severely underfunded

News Jul 07, 2015 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

While increasing the number of family physicians is often cited as a solution for overcrowded emergency rooms, Dr. Victor Kutcher believes access to dental care is another top priority.

Kutcher, recently named president of the Ontario Dental Association, said low-income families are sometimes forced to seek help at hospital ERs, instead of local dentist offices, where issues like abscessed teeth can be dealt with more appropriately, at a lower cost.

Kutcher said dental problems are a leading cause of school absence. Regular dental care can also detect signs of diabetes, heart disease and oral cancer. Kutcher once diagnosed a patient with Kaposi’s sarcoma, an oral manifestation of HIV.

“We look in the mouth on a regular basis and irregularities do show up,” Kutcher said.

Kutcher, who operates a dental practice near Eastgate Square, is looking forward to changes to the publicly-funded Healthy Smiles Ontario program, which could expand access to 70,000 more children from low income families who could otherwise not afford dental care.

But Kutcher said the program won’t improve access to services without additional funding. He points out Ontario dentists have the lowest remuneration rate in Canada for publicly-funded services, receiving on average just 46 per cent of the fees set by the Ontario Dental Association's suggested fee guide.

Kutcher explained that for years, Ontario dentists independently offered a program specifically aimed towards low-income children. That program was taken over by the province in the 1990s.

“Over time, the funding from the government has decreased rather dramatically,” said Kutcher.

Kutcher, who has practised for 34 years, said virtually all dentists treat patients who rely on the provincial program, despite knowing they won’t recover the full costs.

“No politician would work at less than 50 per cent of their pay. We’re expected to do so,” said Kutcher.

Kutcher is however pleased that the government is moving forward with changes to the Healthy Smiles Ontario program which will see about six different programs rolled into a single unit. The revamped process is expected to reduce paperwork and administrative confusion. But Kutcher warns that increased funding is also needed to ensure low-income patients receive proper care.

In response to criticism by Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, Premier Kathleen Wynne suggested last December that the revamped Healthy Smiles Ontario program will make better use of existing funding.

“Here’s the reality of what we’re doing: we are in the process of combining six different programs. If you look at the programs that were in place, in fact, the money that was allocated to these programs was not all being spent. It wasn’t being used in the way that it was intended to be used,” Wynne said.

The premier said the 2013-14 funding for the Healthy Smiles Ontario program was $30 million.

Kutcher plans to discuss funding challenges with Ontario Minister of Health Eric Hoskins at an upcoming meeting.

Stoney Creek dentist, ODA president Victor Kutcher says provincial dental programs severely underfunded

News Jul 07, 2015 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

While increasing the number of family physicians is often cited as a solution for overcrowded emergency rooms, Dr. Victor Kutcher believes access to dental care is another top priority.

Kutcher, recently named president of the Ontario Dental Association, said low-income families are sometimes forced to seek help at hospital ERs, instead of local dentist offices, where issues like abscessed teeth can be dealt with more appropriately, at a lower cost.

Kutcher said dental problems are a leading cause of school absence. Regular dental care can also detect signs of diabetes, heart disease and oral cancer. Kutcher once diagnosed a patient with Kaposi’s sarcoma, an oral manifestation of HIV.

“We look in the mouth on a regular basis and irregularities do show up,” Kutcher said.

“No politician would work at less than 50 per cent of their pay. We’re expected to do so.”

Kutcher, who operates a dental practice near Eastgate Square, is looking forward to changes to the publicly-funded Healthy Smiles Ontario program, which could expand access to 70,000 more children from low income families who could otherwise not afford dental care.

But Kutcher said the program won’t improve access to services without additional funding. He points out Ontario dentists have the lowest remuneration rate in Canada for publicly-funded services, receiving on average just 46 per cent of the fees set by the Ontario Dental Association's suggested fee guide.

Kutcher explained that for years, Ontario dentists independently offered a program specifically aimed towards low-income children. That program was taken over by the province in the 1990s.

“Over time, the funding from the government has decreased rather dramatically,” said Kutcher.

Kutcher, who has practised for 34 years, said virtually all dentists treat patients who rely on the provincial program, despite knowing they won’t recover the full costs.

“No politician would work at less than 50 per cent of their pay. We’re expected to do so,” said Kutcher.

Kutcher is however pleased that the government is moving forward with changes to the Healthy Smiles Ontario program which will see about six different programs rolled into a single unit. The revamped process is expected to reduce paperwork and administrative confusion. But Kutcher warns that increased funding is also needed to ensure low-income patients receive proper care.

In response to criticism by Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, Premier Kathleen Wynne suggested last December that the revamped Healthy Smiles Ontario program will make better use of existing funding.

“Here’s the reality of what we’re doing: we are in the process of combining six different programs. If you look at the programs that were in place, in fact, the money that was allocated to these programs was not all being spent. It wasn’t being used in the way that it was intended to be used,” Wynne said.

The premier said the 2013-14 funding for the Healthy Smiles Ontario program was $30 million.

Kutcher plans to discuss funding challenges with Ontario Minister of Health Eric Hoskins at an upcoming meeting.

Stoney Creek dentist, ODA president Victor Kutcher says provincial dental programs severely underfunded

News Jul 07, 2015 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

While increasing the number of family physicians is often cited as a solution for overcrowded emergency rooms, Dr. Victor Kutcher believes access to dental care is another top priority.

Kutcher, recently named president of the Ontario Dental Association, said low-income families are sometimes forced to seek help at hospital ERs, instead of local dentist offices, where issues like abscessed teeth can be dealt with more appropriately, at a lower cost.

Kutcher said dental problems are a leading cause of school absence. Regular dental care can also detect signs of diabetes, heart disease and oral cancer. Kutcher once diagnosed a patient with Kaposi’s sarcoma, an oral manifestation of HIV.

“We look in the mouth on a regular basis and irregularities do show up,” Kutcher said.

“No politician would work at less than 50 per cent of their pay. We’re expected to do so.”

Kutcher, who operates a dental practice near Eastgate Square, is looking forward to changes to the publicly-funded Healthy Smiles Ontario program, which could expand access to 70,000 more children from low income families who could otherwise not afford dental care.

But Kutcher said the program won’t improve access to services without additional funding. He points out Ontario dentists have the lowest remuneration rate in Canada for publicly-funded services, receiving on average just 46 per cent of the fees set by the Ontario Dental Association's suggested fee guide.

Kutcher explained that for years, Ontario dentists independently offered a program specifically aimed towards low-income children. That program was taken over by the province in the 1990s.

“Over time, the funding from the government has decreased rather dramatically,” said Kutcher.

Kutcher, who has practised for 34 years, said virtually all dentists treat patients who rely on the provincial program, despite knowing they won’t recover the full costs.

“No politician would work at less than 50 per cent of their pay. We’re expected to do so,” said Kutcher.

Kutcher is however pleased that the government is moving forward with changes to the Healthy Smiles Ontario program which will see about six different programs rolled into a single unit. The revamped process is expected to reduce paperwork and administrative confusion. But Kutcher warns that increased funding is also needed to ensure low-income patients receive proper care.

In response to criticism by Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, Premier Kathleen Wynne suggested last December that the revamped Healthy Smiles Ontario program will make better use of existing funding.

“Here’s the reality of what we’re doing: we are in the process of combining six different programs. If you look at the programs that were in place, in fact, the money that was allocated to these programs was not all being spent. It wasn’t being used in the way that it was intended to be used,” Wynne said.

The premier said the 2013-14 funding for the Healthy Smiles Ontario program was $30 million.

Kutcher plans to discuss funding challenges with Ontario Minister of Health Eric Hoskins at an upcoming meeting.