As part of the 2009-10 Budget, the Australian Government announced a review of funding arrangements for diagnostic imaging, to ensure that the Government is paying the right amount in the right way to support access for patients to quality diagnostic imaging services. The review focused on diagnostic imaging services currently funded through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), including x-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine imaging and positron emission tomography (PET).
The review of funding for diagnostic imaging services had four key tasks:
- to establish appropriate fee relativities for MBS items across and within different diagnostic imaging modalities;
- to develop alternatives to fee-for-service and establish whether there are areas of diagnostic imaging that would be more appropriately funded through a different mechanism;
- to review current funding arrangements for MRI, particularly restrictions around Medicare eligible/ineligible units; and
to review current funding arrangements for PET, particularly around what capital arrangements should apply.
In addition, within these tasks the review also considered the long-term viability of diagnostic imaging services in rural, regional and outer-metropolitan areas. The detailed terms of reference for the review can be found at Attachment A.
The review commenced in conjunction with additional diagnostic imaging funding measures introduced by the Government as part of the 2009-10 Budget. Funding was committed to, the diagnostic imaging bulk billing incentive, which commenced on 1 November 2009 to protect patient access to affordable diagnostic imaging services at a cost of $600.7 million over four years. Funding of $5.7 million over four years was also provided for diagnostic imaging and specialist training as part of the Improving the Quality of Services and Addressing Workforce Shortages measure.
Throughout the review there was both formal and informal discussion with the diagnostic imaging industry. The Diagnostic Imaging Review Consultation Committee (DIRCC) was established. Membership included representatives from professional organisations, requestors, providers, consumers, regulatory authorities and training providers of diagnostic imaging services. More detailed information on the DIRCC can be found at Attachment B.
Read the report here: Review of Funding for Diagnostic Imaging Services Final Report