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Patients to benefit from 30 additional MRI licences for regional Australia

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Patients to benefit from 30 additional MRI licences for regional Australia

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek today announced another 30 regional licences for Medicare-rebated magnetic resonance imaging services.

Under a $104.4 million Diagnostic Imaging Review Reform Package, thousands of additional patients will benefit from having access to faster diagnosis of medical conditions and more timely choices of treatment.

“Thousands of patients living in regional Australia who require MRI scans will benefit from more affordable services offered under this package,” said Ms Plibersek.

“This package will increase the number of Medicare-eligible MRI services operating nationally and enable the sector to meet the projected demand for these services into the future.”

Ms Plibersek said it was important to fund services in rural and regional Australia, where coverage of Medicare-eligible MRI services was less concentrated than metropolitan areas.

This announcement will bring the total number of Medicare-eligible MRI services available in regional Australia to 64.

“The package delivers on the Gillard Government’s commitment to provide more health services to areas of need in regional Australian.”

MRI uses magnetic fields to generate images that help diagnose illness. It is especially effective on soft tissue, making it important for working with patients suffering from cancers and strokes.

On top of the 30 regional licences, the Government will also extend partial Medicare eligibility to 161 existing or planned MRI operators in metropolitan areas. This will mean greater access for patients to Medicare-eligible MRI services for breast cancers and the staging of rectal and cervical cancers. These changes will take effect from 1 November 2012.

The Government is also committed to making scans cheaper for patients through bulk billing. The 2011-12 Budget increased the bulk-billing incentive for MRI scans to 100 per cent of the scheduled fee and this took effect on 1 May this year.

For all media inquiries, please contact Simon Crittle 0466 773 531