Better Access to MRI Tests and Increase to Cancer Services

Patients will have access to more affordable Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) services closer to home under a $104.4 million Diagnostic Imaging Review Reform Package.

Page last updated: 10 May 2011

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10 May 2011

Patients will have access to more affordable Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) services closer to home under a $104.4 million Diagnostic Imaging Review Reform Package.

The package means many more Australians will benefit from faster diagnosis and early detection of disease, as part of the next stage of the Gillard Government’s national health reform package.

From November 2012, Medicare will cover the cost of more MRI scans than ever before.

Under the changes, patients using MRI machines in regional Australia will have greater access to Medicare benefits from November next year, through seven machines that were previously exempt from the Medicare rebate scheme.

“These changes mean that regional Australians will be able to access Medicare-funded MRI services for a range of conditions,” Minister Roxon said.

“In metropolitan areas, about 60 existing machines that do not have a Medicare licence and are part of a comprehensive radiology practice will be able to provide Medicare services for a number of conditions such as breast and cervical cancers.

”In addition to this, the number of Medicare-supported MRI units in Metropolitan Australia will increase from 125 today to more than 200 by 30 July 2015, making it much easier for Australians to access affordable diagnostic imaging when and where they need it.

“Further changes in our $104.4 million package will also assist in reducing the cost of scans by increasing the bulk-billing incentive for MRI and will allow GPs to directly request clinically-appropriate MRI services for children, with expansion in 1 November 2013.

Better, and more affordable, access to MRI scans is just one part of our Budget that assists Australians with cancer.

Other important cancer initiatives include continuing the bowel cancer screening program ($138.7 million), maintaining support for women with gynaecological cancers ($6.1 million) and supporting men with prostate cancer ($1.3 million per annum over three years).

This builds on the Government’s record $2 billion provided two years ago to support comprehensive cancer services, including regional cancer centres across the country and life saving cancer medicines through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

These, and other investments, have been made possible in a tight budget as a result of a five year agreement negotiated with the pathology industry.

The pathology agreement delivers better outcomes for consumers by continuing access to affordable pathology services, and providing more security for investment, employment and innovation in the pathology sector, providing an overall net save of $406 million over four years.

Overall, the Gillard Labor Government is making record investments in health – with total health expenditure in 2011-12 expected to be $72.6 billion, up from $48.1 billion in 2006-07.