MP welcomes bulk-billing MRI for Mount Barker
The Federal Government's announcement on Sunday that it would fund a Medicare-rebatable MRI licence for Mount Barker has been welcomed by the Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie.
Mount Barker is one of 30 extra MRI licences promised by the Government as part of a $175 million commitment.
MRIs are used to diagnose a range of medical conditions including cancers and neurological issues and having the licence could save residents up to $500 in scan costs.
There are currently no Medicare-subsided MRI machines in the Hills and locals who do not want to pay the full cost of the scans usually travel into Adelaide to access a Medicare-funded service.
"I welcome the Government's announcement but I will continue to advocate for a Medicare-subsided MRI in Victor Harbor as well," Rebekha said.
“I first raised this issue back in September 2016 with the then Health Minister Sussan Ley.
“Last week I had a positive meeting with the Health Minister, Greg Hunt, who recognised this was 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.
“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.”
Rebekha renewed her pledge to fight for MRI licences in Mount Barker and Victor Harbor during the recent by-election.
After winning office she obtained costings from the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) which showed 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.
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.