MRI scans still out of reach

GRIFFITH’S only medical facility with an MRI machine will be forced to wait even longer bulk-billing licence despite the federal department of health admitting Wagga has two Medicare licences but only one scanner. 

The Area News revealed on Monday local patients were being forced to delay treatment because of the cost after the city’s only MRI machine – at Insight Radiology – was denied a Medicare licence. 

The business has circulated a petition in a bid to secure a licence which would allow it to bulk-bill. 

Some Griffith doctors have been forced to delay diagnoses, with patients unable to afford the scans.

Local GP Elizabeth Dodd said not enough licences had been issued, which she said was unfair because Medicare held a monopoly on insuring MRI scans. 

“There’s no other way you can insure for any MRI cost in Australia, even if you have comprehensive medical insurance, either Medicare pays for it or you have to put 

your hand in your own pocket,” Dr Dodd said.

“The problem is a maldistribution of licences for MRI machines that Medicare will pay any money for and to make matters worse they only leak out a few at a time.

“I once had a patient who delayed an MRI scan for a year and a half because it was too expensive in Griffith without bulk billing and too logistically difficult for her to get to Wagga.” 

A spokesman for Department of Health confirmed the department had received an application for Medicare eligibility from Insight Radiology.

“This application for Medicare eligibility is currently being actively considered for funding and the outcome of this application will be provided to Insight Radiology soon,” the spokesman said. 

“In relation to Wagga, that area does have an operational Medicare-eligible MRI unit and another MRI unit which is expected to commence providing Medicare-eligible MRI services in November 2013.”

Griffith mother Jeanette Brumby’s 14 year-old daughter Meghan had scans on her knees yesterday, costing the family $630 – which would have been waived if the scan was included in Medicare.

“She was a good netballer, swimmer and tennis player but she can’t play sport any more because her knees just give out,” Mrs Brumby said.

“You just have to pay the cost because you can’t have your children in pain, but $630 is a lot to bear and depending on what the scans reveal she may need expensive specialist attention in Melbourne or Sydney.”

Staff from Insight Radiology have been granted a meeting with Riverina MP Michael McCormack tomorrow, where they will plead their case on behalf of Griffith residents.

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