The Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon. Nicola Roxon and the Member for Maribyrnong, the Hon. Bill Shorten announce a new Medicare licence for the existing MRI machine at Future Medical Imaging in Moonee Ponds.
The Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon. Nicola Roxon and the Member for Maribyrnong, the Hon. Bill Shorten, today announced a new Medicare licence for the existing MRI machine at Future Medical Imaging in Moonee Ponds.
Minister Roxon said from November 2012 the newly licensed MRI machine will support Medicare subsidised services for a specified range of conditions including some common cancers like breast and cervical cancer.
“This will significantly reduce the cost of scans to patients and bring Medicare-funded services closer to home for those that need them,” Minister Roxon said.
MRI uses magnetic fields to generate images that help diagnose illnesses. It is especially effective on soft tissue, making it important for working with diseases such as some cancers and strokes.
“The new licence for Maribyrnong is part of a major expansion of Medicare eligibility for MRIs across Australia which will see more than 60 new licences granted to existing machines,” Minister Roxon said.
Mr Shorten said this was a great announcement for the local community.
“This service will provide patients in the Maribyrnong with Medicare-subsidised scans and highlights the Gillard Government’s commitment to increasing health services in this community,” Mr Shorten said.
At the same time as the additional MRI licences come into effect, the Government will allow GPs to refer patients under the age of 16 to Medicare-eligible MRIs for specific conditions without the need to first see a specialist.
Minister Roxon said this will reduce the costs associated with having a scan and speed up the time taken to get a diagnosis.
“Importantly, it avoids exposing children unnecessarily to radiation associated with other types of diagnostic imaging like CT machines,” Minister Roxon said.
From November 2013 adults will also be able to access Medicare benefits on a licensed MRI machine with a GP referral for certain medical conditions.
In addition to better access, the Gillard Government is committed to bulkbilling in order to make scans cheaper for patients. This Budget increases the bulkbilling incentive for MRI scans to 100% of the scheduled fee.
This further increase follows a boost to the bulkbilling incentive in May 2009 from 85% to 95% which has helped lift the bulkbilling rate for diagnostic imaging to 73.1% - a new record level.
“Combined, these initiatives show our Government’s determination to make vital health services in Maribyrnong cheaper and easier to access,” said Mr Shorten.
Deputy Prime Minister: 02 6277 7340
Minister Roxon: 02 6277 7220
Member for Maribyrnong: 03 9326 1300