$2.6M to run MRI licences in Mayo
It would cost about $1.3 million a year to operate a Medicare-rebatable MRI machine in Mount Barker, and the same for Victor Harbor, according to Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) estimates obtained by the Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie.
Rebekha requested the PBO costings soon after winning the by-election having pledged to continue her advocacy for the Medicare-subsidised imaging services.
“Around the same time I received confirmation in writing from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten that Labor would honour its by-election promise to provide a Medicare-subsidised MRI licence in the Mt Barker region if the party was successful in forming government at the next general election,” Rebekha said.
“Now I and my Senate colleagues will continue our pressure on the current Morrison Government to deliver this much-needed service so our community doesn’t have to keep travelling into Adelaide for affordable imaging.
“I first raised this issue back in September 2016 with the then Health Minister Sussan Ley.
“This week I had a positive meeting with Health Minister Greg Hunt and I believe the Minister recognises this is an important issue for Mayo.
“The Country SA Primary Health Network has the lowest number of full Medicare-eligible MRI units in Australia and we know Mayo residents opt to travel to Adelaide for 5000 procedures a year because the imaging is more affordable.
“This equates to about 20 patients a day from the Adelaide Hills region and the same for the South Coast.
“Those who have to use the MRI in Mt Barker currently pay full cost and that can be more than $300.
“What I am hearing is that many residents put off getting an MRI because they cannot afford it and they find it too difficult to travel to a location where they can claim Medicare.
“Mount Barker and Victor Harbor are fast growing regions and it’s time they had access to Medicare-subsidised MRI services.”
The PBO estimates for Mt Barker and Victor Harbor are based on the cost of running MRI licences in similar regional areas.
Over the forward estimates, the annual cost for a licence will rise from $1.3 million in 2018/19 to $1.45 million in 2021/22, totalling $8.4 million over three years in the two locations.