MP backs MRI scan fight

A FEDERAL MP has thrown his support behind a campaign to make MRI scans accessible to everyone in Griffith – not just the wealthy.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed a second medical facility earmarked for Binya Street was denied a bulk billing licence, because Griffith “was not an area of need”. 

Last week, The Area News exposed Griffith residents had put off MRI scans for up to a year-and-a-half because Medicare would not cover them but local member Michael McCormack has committed himself to resolving the crisis. 

Regional Imaging, which operates an MRI facility in Wagga and general scanning services from Griffith Base Hospital, also applied for a Medicare licence in the latest round of applications but was declined.

The company’s regional manager Matthew Bellairs said Regional Imaging was in the closing stages of securing development for a medical facility in Binya Street, which he had hoped would be able to bulk bill for MRI scans. 

“Basically, the (federal) Department of Health and Ageing said Griffith wasn’t an area of need,” Mr Bellairs said.

“We remain in constant contact with the department and we are fighting for a rebate for the region because as we know, it’s desperately needed.

“It would have made a lot more sense to have a licence in Griffith rather than two in Wagga but we hope to be up and running in 12 to 18 months nevertheless.” 

Management from Insight Radiology – which houses the only MRI facility currently in Griffith – met with Mr McCormack last week to plead their case.

Mr McCormack said he would make representations to health minister Peter Dutton in support of a Medicare licence after hearing how difficult it was for patients with chronic pain to travel to Wagga because they couldn’t afford treatment in Griffith.

“After a productive meeting I have sent a signed letter to the health minister and I will follow it up in parliament,” Mr McCormack said.

“Sometimes bureaucrats don’t quite appreciate the tyranny of distance and the unique circumstances faced by people living in the country.

“I will do everything I can to bring the issue to light and I have confidence in Peter Dutton, he is a good fellow.”

Insight Radiology manager Alan Pham was pleased Mr McCormack had shown interest in the plight of his patients.

“Mr McCormack was very supportive and understood the problem, now we will just wait to see the results of his lobbying and the position of the federal government,” Mr Pham said.

“We realise it won’t happen overnight but hopefully his support will reverse the health department’s unfounded decision to refuse us a licence.”

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