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Budget 2018: 500,000 more life-saving scans funded by Medicare



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BILL SHORTEN MP LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG

THE HON CATHERINE KING MP SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE MEMBER FOR BALLARAT

500,000 MORE LIFE-SAVING SCANS FUNDED BY MEDICARE

A Shorten Labor Government will ensure more communities have affordable access to life-saving scans, expanding Medicare-subsidised access to diagnostic imaging in areas where there are shortages.

Labor will invest $80 million to boost the number of eligible MRI machines and approve 20 new licences - meaning 500,000 more scans funded by Medicare over the course of a first Labor budget.

MRI scans are used to detect and diagnose conditions that affect soft tissue - including tumours and cancer - and can mean the difference in detecting a disease as early as possible. But they only attract a rebate if they are performed on a machine with a licence - with many Australians travelling long distances or experiencing significant wait times to access an eligible machine.

Labor’s commitment will mean more affordable scans for more Australians, addressing shortages in communities that need it most.

The Turnbull Government has completely neglected MRI scans, granting only four MRI licences in almost five years in office, without any opportunity for other communities to apply.

This has been one of the most disgraceful health policy failures since the Liberals came to power - and that’s saying something.

In Government, Labor granted 238 licences, with hundreds of communities benefiting from the early detection and diagnosis of disease today because of Labor’s investment.

Last year’s Senate Inquiry into MRI licences heard that Turnbull’s neglect in this area could have deadly consequences, with evidence that a lack of MRI licenses meant that children were at risk of being overexposed to the radiation of CT scans. Children’s Healthcare Australasia gave evidence that for every 1,000 CT scans a new case of cancer is created in an Australian child.

That’s why Labor will grant 20 new full MRI licences - five times as many as the Liberals have granted in five years. The first 10 licences will be reserved for public hospitals, with locations determined based on evidence to the Senate Committee.

Importantly, the remaining licences will be awarded via a transparent application process under a Labor Government. This will be the first opportunity for communities around Australia to apply for a licence since Labor was last in office.

This investment in MRI licences comes on top of our $2.8 billion commitment to public hospitals. Labor will reverse Malcolm Turnbull’s public hospital cuts and ensure our emergency departments and hospital wards have the doctors, nurses and hospital staff to keep up with record demand.

Instead of giving big business and the banks a $80 billion tax handout - Labor is prioritising working and middle class Australians with better tax relief, better education and better health care.

Labor’s commitment will have a financial impact of $80 million over the forward estimates.

THURSDAY, 10 MAY 2018