Health Minister Sussan Ley.
Health Minister Sussan Ley. Contributed

The truth behind Tweed's Hospital MRI application knock back

FEDERAL Health Minister Sussan Ley said the Tweed Hospital's MRI application had been knocked back because it came outside of a licence application round.

A spokesperson for Ms Ley for the Australian Government Department of Health said successive governments had to ensure the provision of public funding for MRIs was "both fair and financially responsible”.

"Since its introduction on the Medicare Benefits Schedule, MRI has been carefully managed through a series of targeted application processes as well as provider, requester and item level restrictions,” he said.

"These controls help to support the provision of high quality, safe and cost effective health care for all Australians in a financially responsible manner. At this stage, the government has not advised of a further round of applications for Medicare eligibility of MRI units.”

"Should an opportunity arise to apply for MRI Medicare eligibility, the Department of Health will notify relevant radiology industry groups.”

But Able Medico manager Mark Grahame said the government could use its discretionary ministerial powers outside of the tender process to approve the licence.

"It's entirely up to the minister,” Mr Grahame said.

"We understand the criteria that needs to be met. Where there's a particularly strong case - and the Tweed is the strongest we've ever seen - it's worth pushing through.”

Tweed MP Geoff Provest challenged Federal MP Justine Elliot to deliver a fully rebateable MRI scanner licence.

"She's jumping on a popular issue in the hospital, let's see what more she can do than write a letter,” Mr Provest said.

"She should really step-up to the plate and really bring something tangible back to the electorate.”

Mr Provest said he would lobby Federal Assistant Minister for Rural Health Dr David Gillespie over the issue.

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