GRIEVANCE DEBATE: MEDICARE MRI LICENCES
I’ve always made the issues that are important to my constituents my priority, and one of the most important is access to healthcare. For my constituents on Brisbane’s bayside, affordable access to MRIs has been an issue for some time.
A few weeks ago I had a very informative meeting with the CEO of Queensland X-Ray, Dr Robert Clarke. I met with Dr Clarke to discuss the fact that Bonner is one of the most under serviced Primary Health Networks for MRIs in Australia. There are only 0.5 Medicare eligible MRIs per 100,000 of the population. This represents the equal third most underserviced area in the country.
My constituents in Wynnum and surrounding areas have to drive around 20 kilometres to attend the nearest fully funded MRI unit in inner-metropolitan Brisbane. That’s about a 40 minute drive for potentially lifesaving scans for cancer, stroke, heart, and other medical conditions. And in most instances, there are extremely long waitlists for Medicare eligible outpatient scans. The latest shows patients can expect a 70 day wait for an appointment at the PA Hospital.
Dr Clarke and I agree that a full Medicare licence is needed for the MRI unit at their Wynnum practice. A full MRI licence would allow them to charge MRI services to Medicare, significantly reducing the cost of MRI scans to patients.
This would help alleviate the burden on other providers. Also, if Queensland X-Ray Wynnum were to receive an MRI licence, they would commit to provide same day bulk billed appointments. This would help provide affordable and equitable healthcare to people who need it most in Bonner.
The health and wellbeing of my constituents is paramount so tonight I’m throwing my full support behind Queensland X-Ray Wynnum’s campaign for a full MRI licence.
The Government has invited applications for up to 20 additional new MRI licences across the country. This will be a highly competitive public application process. No doubt there’ll be many others applying for consideration for a licence, and a number of representatives going into bat for them.
Well I’m prepared to fight to the end to secure a full licence for my bayside constituents! I’ve already met with Minister Hunt and shared with him the facts I’ve shared tonight. I want to thank the Minister for his time and hearing out stories from my constituents who would benefit so much if the MRI at their local practice were to be fully subsidised.
The Government has already announced ten locations that will receive Medicare subsidised MRIs from November 1st this year. The total of 30 sites that will receive subsidised MRIs will provide more than 400,000 Australians with access to lifesaving scans, with a total investment of $175 million. It’s all part of this Government’s commitment to providing high quality health services when and where they’re needed.
Our commitment to 30 additional sites will bring the total number of fully Medicare eligible MRI machines in Australia to 204. That represents a more than 17 per cent increase across Australia. That comes on top of our boost earlier this year to Medicare support for a new MRI scan for prostate cancer checks helping 26,000 men each year, as well as a new Medicare listing for 3D breast cancer checks helping around 240,000 women each year. We’ve guaranteed Medicare spending, which is increasing each and every year.
I’m campaigning hard on behalf of my constituents and asking for strong consideration to be given for a full Medicare MRI licence for my bayside constituents. I’m hoping to be able to provide a positive update in future! But rest assured I’ll be fighting every step of the way to deliver lifesaving, affordable and accessible MRI services for my constituents.