Anderton’s Dental Levy

Georgina Stylianou at The Press reports:

A levy should be put on sugary soft drinks to help fund free dental care for all New Zealanders, a Christchurch MP says.

Of course. Jim has yet to meet a problem that a levy can’t fix. So how big a levy does he want?

Progressive Party leader has released a dental policy that he hopes the Labour Party will adopt as part of its health programme for this year’s election.

Cost and access were still the major hurdles to dental care for most people, Anderton said. “The cost of extending free dental care to all would be around $1 billion a year at current prices.”

We’ve got a multi-billion deficit, and not even that is enough to stop Jim proposing an extra billion dollars of expenditure.

He said funding could come from an ACC-type levy, a reduction in tax cuts or a levy on sugary soft drinks.

Surely Jim wants all three.

I wonder what his billion dollar dream would mean for soft drink prices. We have 1.5m households, so that is around $700 per household he wants, which is an extra $14 a week on their shopping bill. Can’t really see Labour adopting this one, as they try to campaign on cost of living. But I’d say the average household only spends less than $14 a week on soft drinks currently, so Jim’s proposal would be in fact to double the cost of all soft drinks. This will probably excite the Greens!

He supported fluoridation of all drinking water. He said children from affluent families in Christchurch had worse dental health than those from low socioeconomic families in South Auckland because Auckland has fluoride in its water.

I don’t know why anyone would not want their water fluoridated, but each to their own.

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