LOCAL patients will have free access to vital scanning services as a result of a new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) licence at the Wagga Wagga Base Hospital.

The MRI licence means locals will be able to access a Medicare rebate for an estimated 3,354 services per year, which will save lives and reduce costs for patients.

Nationals’ Riverina MP and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said today’s announcement meant locals who had serious medical conditions, such as cancer, stroke or heart defects, would no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars for the service.

“This is fantastic news for the city and the wider Wagga Wagga region,” Mr McCormack said.

“This important investment from the Liberal and Nationals’ Government means more patients will have greater access to eligible bulk-billed MRI scans.

“The last thing a family should be worrying about is whether a trip to the doctor will require an expensive MRI they cannot afford.

“We are making healthcare more affordable in the Riverina, which can only be done through our proven record of strong economic management.”

Patients will receive the Medicare-covered MRI services from March.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) Chief Executive Jill Ludford said she was delighted with the announcement which will be welcomed by patients across the region.

“This exciting news now means Wagga Wagga Base Hospital (WWBH) outpatients can be bulk-billed and have no out-of-pocket expenses,” she said.

The WWBH MRI machine was commissioned in July 2016 and is the only public hospital service in the MLHD.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the Liberal and Nationals’ Government was helping Australians stay healthy and was keeping down the cost of healthcare for families.

“Our plan for a strong economy means we continue to deliver record funding for essential services such as Medicare, public hospitals and life-saving medicines,” Minister Hunt said.

“Not only will our new Medicare support ensure patients get better treatment and save money, it will also cut down the amount of time patients travel to get a scan.

“Our investment in MRI licences of over $375 million over the forward estimates for 50 new locations around the country delivers on the Government’s commitment to improve access and outcomes for patients.

“Unlike Labor we have also committed to reduce the cost for patients by indexing targeted diagnostic imaging services including mammography, fluoroscopy, CT scans and interventional procedures.

“Under the Liberal-Nationals Government, Medicare spending is guaranteed and increasing every year from $24 billion in 2017–18 to $28.8 billion in 2021–22 to support health care for every Australian.” 

The Government’s strong economic management ensures the continued record investment of funding into vital health initiatives including mental health, life-saving medicines, Medicare and hospitals.

Shane Manning