These notes explain the funding arrangements for MRI in Australia operating from 1992 to September 1998.   During that period recognised public sites were paid on the basis of the number of examinations performed with no limitations on the applications or indications attracting funding.   The funding conditions were dictated in a Health Programme Grant (HPG) contract between the State and Federal governments.   Each site received approximately $1.3 milllion for performing in exccess of 3600 examinations per annum.
Greg Brown  November 1998


DIL.1 Non payment of Medicare Benefits for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) does not attract a Medicare benefit. Although a Medicare benefit for MRI services was payable in respect of services rendered at certain hospitals during the evaluation period of the technology, the benefit was withdrawn from 29 July 1992.

By agreement with the States, the Commonwealth contributes to the funding of MRI in the form of grants to the States. These grants enable the establishment of 18 publicly funded machines attached to neurosurgical units at major public hospitals, and the payment of radiologists to treat eligible private (non-compensible) patients. The grants were effective from 1 February 1992, rendering the Medicare benefit item superfluous.

Patients eligible for Medicare and private (non-compensible) patients are not charged for MRI services at the recognised (public) hospitals specified hereunder:

Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonard's, NSW Austin Hospital, Heidelberg, VIC
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, NSW Princess Alexandra Hospital, Woolloongabba, QLD
Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, NSW  Royal Brisbane Hospital, Herston, QLD
John Hunter Hospital, New Lambton, NSW Townsville Hospital, Townsville, QLD
Westmead Hospital, Parramatta, NSW  Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, SA
Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, VIC Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park, SA
St Vincents Hospital, Fitzroy, VIC Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Nedlands, WA
Alfred Group of Hospitals, Prahran, VIC Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, WA
Royal Hobart Hospital, Hobart, TAS Canberra Hospital, Woden, ACT (renamed from Woden Valley Hospital)
 Details of referral requirements should be obtained from the hospital concerned.

Government policy on MRI is based on the advice of an independent expert committee that access to MRI be improved through the establishment of the publicly funded machines listed above. The policy is concerned to ensure that access to publicly funded MRI is based on demonstrated needs and health outcomes, and that inappropriate diffusion of this expensive health technology does not occur.

DIL.2 Anaesthetic Services Associated with MRI

Medicare benefits are payable under Item 18013 for anaesthetic services associated with MRI. Benefits are restricted to anaesthetic services administered in association with MRI services carried out using MRI equipment located at the hospitals listed above.

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