Health Reform Patients

Fully Funded MRI Licences

In a boon for patients, both the Government and the Opposition have committed to the release of a number of new fully funded Medicare MRI licences.

The Government and the Opposition in recent times have been making a series of announcements regarding where new MRI licences would be made available.

The Opposition got the ball rolling when in May it announced that in government it would provide for 20 new licences, 10 for public hospitals and 10 for private hospitals.

Last weekend, the Government upped the ante by announcing they would fund an additional 30 MRI licences with Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, naming the first ten localities to receive them from November this year.  This also follows on from the review Minister Hunt ordered into how MRI licences are allocated.

Up until recently, there had been a total of 5 new MRI licences since 2013, and 2 of them were announced during the election campaign.

The flurry of activity by both the Opposition and the Government can be traced back to the Senate inquiry into diagnostic imaging that reported in February of this year.

By putting the issue of MRI licences in the political and public spotlight, it was only a matter of time before both major parties started making the commitments they have.

It is also testament to the power and influence that a Senate inquiry can have in that in 5 years only 5 new licences were made available, but in the space of 5 months since the inquiry, access to 50 new licences have been announced.

The other telling point is that health remains and will be a front and centre political issue between now and the federal election.

Both sides are competing for votes and know health can be a deciding factor in how many people decide to vote.  Access to MRIs has shown itself to be the latest battleground in the ongoing health debate.

While Labor and the Government seek to outdo each other on announcing new MRI licences, the big winner is patients.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging is amazing medical device technology, and the more people that can have access to it when needed, can only be good for the community as a whole.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jody Fassina is the Managing Director of Insight Strategy and has been an strategic adviser to MedTech and pharmaceutical stakeholders.

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