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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1757

Rural and Regional Health Services

Dear Mrs Wicks

I refer to your letter of 5 December 2017 regarding petition number EN0392. The petition concerns magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) Medicare eligibility in Western Australia.

As you are aware, MRI is a sophisticated and expensive technology. Successive governments have had to ensure that the provision of public funding for MRI is both fair and financially responsible. Since its introduction on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), MM has been carefully managed through a series of targeted application processes as well as provider, requestor and item level restrictions. These controls help to support the provision of high quality, safe and cost effective health care for all Australians both as patients and taxpayers.

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring health expenditure is sustainable and appropriately targeted towards patient care. The Government is also committed to ensuring the long-term viability of Medicare. Policy priorities will be considered within this context and additional expenditure will be considered when it is responsible to do so. This would include any consideration of expanding Medicare eligibility for MRI units.

While there are currently no application processes open for MRI Medicare eligibility, I have asked the Department to undertake a review of the distribution and availability of MRI Medicare eligibility and provide further advice to me on options to ensure that Australians continue to have affordable access to this service. Should an opportunity arise to apply for MRI Medicare eligibility, the Department will notify the relevant radiology industry groups.

For your information, if an application processes for MRI Medicare eligibility were to become available, you should be aware that currently for MR1 equipment to be considered for Medicare eligibility, it must meet the following minimum legislative criteria:

The practice must at the same location also have at least x-ray and computed tomography (CT) equipment;

The premises must be registered with a location specific practice number (LSPN) by the Department of HumanServices (DHS) and the x-ray and CT equipment must be listed in the LSPN register for the premises;

The premises at which the equipment is located would need to be accredited under the Diagnostic Imaging Accreditation Scheme for at least x-ray and CT services; and

Providers of MRI at the practice must be a specialist in diagnostic radiology who is a participant of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) Quality and Accreditation Program.

Thank you for writing on this matter. Yours sincerely

from the Minister for Health, Mr Hunt