Rebekha opens bulk-billing MRI in Mount Barker
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has today officially opened Mount Barker’s first Medicare licensed MRI service, located at Dr Jones & Partners.
Photo: Dr Steve Evans from Dr Jones & Partners and Rebekha Sharkie MP cut the ribbon to officially open the new Medicare licence for the MRI in Mount Barker.
The service is one of 30 extra MRI licences promised by the Government as part of a $175 million commitment and represents more than two years of advocacy by the local MP.
“Our community is growing rapidly and really needs this service so I congratulate Dr Jones & Partners for their work in putting in the application for Mount Barker,” Rebekha said.
“The Country SA Primary Health Network has the lowest number of full Medicare-eligible MRI units in Australia and I know about 2400 Mayo residents have opted 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 heading down into the city because they couldn't afford the out of pocket cost of $300 or more.
“Many other residents were put off getting an MRI because they couldn't afford it or they found it too difficult to travel to a location where they could claim a rebate from Medicare.
“I am pleased to see that Dr Jones & Partners have also put in an application to the Government for an MRI licence for Victor Harbor, another rapidly growing area that is well overdue for a Medicare-rebatable licence.
“I know I have put in my letter of support for this application and I certainly hope to be invited to another official opening on the South Coast.”
Rebekha first raised the issue of MRI licences in Mayo in September 2016 with the then Health Minister Sussan Ley.
She renewed her pledge to fight for MRI licences in Mount Barker and Victor Harbor during the recent by-election.
After winning office, Rebekha obtained costings from the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) which showed it would cost about $1.3 million a year to operate a Medicare-licensed MRI machine in Mount Barker, and the same for Victor Harbor.
The PBO estimates for Mount 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.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of Dr Jones & Partners, David Coorey, the Mount Barker MRI has been booked out since the licence came into effect this month.
The population of the Mount Barker region is expected to grow from today's figure of 35,000 to over 52,000 by 2036.