No MRI Medicare rebate

RELATED: MRI coming to Sale hospital

MAGNETIC Resonance Imaging costs at Central Gippsland Health Service won’t initially attract a Medicare rebate but the health service is adamant patients will not have to pay more than at other Gippsland hospitals.

“While the health service will not initially have a Medicare rebate licence this will not affect patients; the cost of procedure in Sale will be no different to Bairnsdale and Traralgon,” a hospital spokesperson confirmed.

“CGHS will carry that cost it has budgeted for it.”

CGHS will begin operating the MRI initially without the ability to receive a Medicare rebate.

Once the fixed MRIs are in place at the other Gippsland hospitals, Bairnsdale and Latrobe Regional Hospital, patients will be charged a gap at both LRH and Bairnsdale too.

I-Med received an extension to the subsidy which means there will not be a gap payment until the mobile service ceases.

“CGHS expects that in the next 12-24 months, there will be opportunity to apply to the Commonwealth Government for a Medicare rebate often referred to as a ‘Medicare Licence’.

“In the past, if institutions could demonstrate having made an investment then Medicare rebates have been approved,” the spokesperson said.

“In the meantime, CGHS will only be charging fees similar to LRH and Bairnsdale.

“That is CGHS will be charging the equivalent of the gap payment.

“So patients having an MRI at CGHS will pay the same as at LRH and Bairnsdale.”

The spokesperson assured the Gippsland Times the CGHS board had budgeted to carry this cost, which it believed at worst, would produce a small annual loss.

“This business decision was made by the board because of the responsibility CGHS has to provide the service for patients,” the spokesperson said.

In announcing CGHS’s decision to lease its own MRI machine when the mobile service ceases, CGHS chief executive Frank Evans said it was essential for the health service.

“Access to MRI is considered essential for us to maintain our medical, high dependency and critical care capability,” Dr Evans said.

“Local access is also important for local people who would otherwise need to travel to Traralgon or Bairnsdale for a service if it is not available in Sale.”

CGHS medical imaging manager Simon Waixel said the permanent MRI machine would operate five days a week and significantly reduce current waiting lists for the mobile service of three weeks or longer.