More subsidised MRI scans made available
New Medicare-subsidised MRI licences have been granted in an additional 30 locations around Australia.
More than 400,000 Australians will now be able to access lifesaving scans for cancer, stroke, heart and other medical conditions.
The Government has allocated $175 million for the rollout, with the first 10 hospitals to receive the new Medicare support being:
- Mount Druitt Hospital, New South Wales
- Sale Hospital, Victoria
- Royal Darwin Hospital, Northern Territory
- Mount Barker, South Australia
- Pindara Private Hospital, Gold Coast, Queensland
- Northern Beaches Hospital, New South Wales
- Toowoomba Hospital, Queensland
- Monash Children’s Hospital, Clayton Victoria
- St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospital, Western Australia
- Kalgoorlie Health Campus, Western Australia
Health Minister Greg Hunt said each of the sites had been identified as a location of critical patient need. In many cases hospitals already have this technology, ready to provide services from November 1 this year.
“Not only will our new Medicare support ensure patients get the most appropriate treatment and save money, it will also cut down the amount of time patients have to spend travelling to get a scan,” the Minister said.
“Medicare subsidised MRIs will be accessible in these locations from 1 November 2018, subject to the sites meeting the required approvals and administrative requirements.”
A competitive public application process for the location of a further 20 Medicare eligible MRIs has also been opened.
Shadow Health Minister Catherine King welcomed the new licences, but said the Government was only following Labor’s move on the issue.
“After five years of abject failure when it comes to the cost of medical scans, the Liberals have finally decided to follow Labor’s lead and award more Medicare-subsidised MRI licences,” Ms King said.
“When Labor was last in Government, we awarded 238 MRI licences – delivering more affordable scans to hundreds of communities across the country.
“In May this year, we promised a Bill Shorten Labor government would invest an extra $80 million to deliver a further 20 licences in locations of pressing need.”
Mr Hunt pointed out that earlier this year, the Government boosted Medicare support for a new MRI scan for prostate cancer checks helping 26,000 men each year. It also provided a new Medicare listing for 3D breast cancer checks, helping around 240,000 women each year.
“The Liberal National Government has also announced an additional $2 billion investment in diagnostic imaging over the next decade,” he said.
“We are retaining the bulk-billing incentive and indexing targeted diagnostic imaging services including mammography, fluoroscopy, CT scans and interventional procedures.
“By contrast, Labor has only committed $80 million and not made any commitment to the re-indexation of diagnostic imaging rebates.”
An MRI is a commonly used medical scan which gives a detailed view of the soft tissues of the body such as muscles, ligaments, brain tissue, discs and blood vessels, and helps with the diagnosis of (among other things) cancer, cardiac conditions, trauma and sporting injuries.