I propose to take Questions Nos. 154, 1222 and 1345 together.
The Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) provides dental treatments to medical card holders. Services are provided by independent practitioners who have contracts with the HSE. Expenditure on the Scheme was €56 million on 2019.
After an interruption to services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, dental services have been resuming since 18th May, supported by guidance from HPSC. Claims by dentists in the DTSS in June were 27% of the level for the previous year. The corresponding figure for October is 93%.
Smile agus Sláinte, the National Oral Health Policy, published by my Department in April 2019, sets out the new model of care delivery for dental services. The timeframe for the delivery of the Policy, which will be rolled out incrementally, is up to 2026. A review of the provision of dental services for those eligible for public services is required in the context of the implementation of the Policy and the issue of fees paid to dentists will be considered in that context.
My Department has been engaging with the Irish Dental Association (IDA) throughout the pandemic and is preparing for further engagement on any additional measures that might assist the public in accessing oral healthcare during these difficult times.
The Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme comes under the remit of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Eligibility for this Scheme is based on a person's PRSI contributions. Tax reliefs come under the remit of the Minister for Finance.