Expansion of Medicare-eligible magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) Frequently Asked Questions

Page last updated: 04 April 2019

  1. Can my organisation apply for Medicare eligibility for more than one MRI unit at the same location?
  2. Can my organisation apply for Medicare eligibility for more than one MRI unit in more than one location?
  3. Can my organisation still apply for Medicare eligibility for MRI if the practice is not within a Primary Health Network (PHN) with a high area of need?
  4. Can my organisation apply for an upgrade of partial to full Medicare eligibility if I already have another MRI unit with full Medicare eligibility, at the same location?
  5. Will late applications be accepted?
  6. Can I apply for an extension for my application?
  7. When will my organisation find out if my application has been successful or not?
  8. Can a number of organisations submit a joint application?
  9. What is a lead organisation?
  10. When can we commence providing Medicare-eligible MRI services?
  11. Can my organisation apply if it does not have an operational MRI unit at the time of application?
  12. Can my organisation transfer its MRI Medicare eligibility to a different location before the closing time to lodge applications?
  13. Can my organisation transfer its upgraded or new MRI Medicare eligibility obtained as a result of the ITA process?
  14. Who should I contact if I need more information?
  15. How many services are claimed under Medicare for each Medicare-eligible machine?
  16. Can I provide additional information to support my application, including business cases, case studies or petitions?
  17. Can every MRI currently provide Medicare eligible MRI services?
  18. I note that there are restrictions to transfers while the ITA process is underway. How do I know if a transfer that I was thinking about applying for would be able to be considered?
  19. If I am considering installing an MRI at my practice, will the Department be able to provide me with data to determine potential throughput for my area?
  20. If I work in a hospital that has multiple specialist MRI in different departments, can I apply for Medicare eligibility for MRI at the whole hospital on the basis that the hospital provides the complete range of services?
  21. I am applying for an MRI unit that will be installed and operational by 31 December 2020. Do you require evidence such as lease agreements or purchase orders to demonstrate this?
  22. How was the number of fully Medicare eligible MRI units per 100,000 population determined for each Primary Health Network (PHN)?
  23. If a private provider operating from a hospital location (via a contractual arrangement) has existing Medicare eligibility for an MRI located at that hospital, can the hospital separately apply for Medicare eligibility at the same location in case the contractual arrangements with the private provider cease?
  24. Before this expansion process was announced, I made a submission to the Minister for Health or Department of Health seeking MRI Medicare eligibility. Can the submission be considered as an application through this ITA process?
  25. If our public hospital has not yet got a business case approved for the purchase of MRI equipment, can we still apply as part of this application round?
  26. Can I arrange a face-to-face meeting with the Department of Health during the ITA process to provide background information or evidence in support of my application?
  27. Will a portion of the Government’s announced $175 million investment be provided to assist with purchasing MRI equipment?
  28. If I provide supplementary documentation do I need to provide it in both Word and PDF?
  29. Do I need to submit the entire ITA form as my application or just Appendix 3?
  30. We are intending on upgrading our MRI machine from a 1.5T to a 3T. How do we advise of this in our application?
  31. If our application is successful, will we be able to upgrade our equipment in the future?
  32. If my application is successful and my partial Medicare eligibility is upgraded to full Medicare eligibility, what services can I claim?
  33. As a public hospital (rather than the MRI service provider) can I make an application on behalf of the hospital?
  34. Can the Department provide advice on who can sign the declaration in the application form?
  35. The information that is needed for this ITA process is very different to previous processes. Have you streamlined the process, or am I misreading the ITA?
  36. Can I propose an alternative approach to the current ITA process?
  37. A question in the Application Form asks ‘What is the estimated population of the patient catchment for the location of the MRI unit?’ What is meant by the term ‘patient catchment’ for the MRI unit?
  38. A question in the Application Form asks ‘What other medical services are available in the catchment population area identified above?’ Do these ‘other medical services’ need to be at the same site as the MRI or within the entire catchment?
  39. If I don’t have an MRI unit yet how do I complete the section on the equipment details?
  40. How do I determine the number of medical practitioners likely to request MRI services from the practice?
  41. What process will be followed with regard to the announcement of successful ITA applicants and when can we expect to receive a response?
  42. Are there going to be more allocations of Medicare-eligible MRI than the 20 originally announced for the ITA process? When will announcements be made?
  43. What announcements have been made?

1. Can my organisation apply for Medicare eligibility for more than one MRI unit at the same location?

No, an organisation cannot apply for Medicare eligibility for more than one MRI unit at a single location. In addition, organisations can only apply if there are no fully Medicare-eligible MRI units at the same location.

2. Can my organisation apply for Medicare eligibility for more than one MRI unit in more than one location?

Yes, an organisation can apply for Medicare eligibility for more than one MRI unit at more than one location. However a single stand-alone application will need to be submitted for each MRI unit/location.

3. Can my organisation still apply for Medicare eligibility for MRI if the practice is not within a Primary Health Network (PHN) with a high area of need?

While all organisations that meet the criteria can apply, applicants should be aware that priority will be given to practices in PHNs with the highest area of need. As there will be allocations for up to 20 new Medicare-eligible MRIs, it is unlikely that offers will be made to practices located in low priority PHNs.

4. Can my organisation apply for an upgrade of partial to full Medicare eligibility if I already have another MRI unit with full Medicare eligibility, at the same location?

No. Applicants cannot apply for an upgrade of partial Medicare eligibility if they already have a fully eligible machine at the same location.

5. Will late applications be accepted?

Late applications will not be accepted under any circumstances. Requests to amend submitted applications will also not be accepted after the ITA closing date of 2 November 2018.

6. Can I apply for an extension for my application?

No, extensions will not be granted.

7. When will my organisation find out if my application has been successful or not?

The Department will contact the successful applicants after they have been selected, to discuss the preparation of a Deed to enable commencement from as early as 1 March 2019.

8. Can a number of organisations submit a joint application?

Yes. If the work or project benefits or involves more than one organisation, a joint application can be submitted. However, in order to manage the Medicare eligibility, if a joint application is successful, the Department of Health will enter into a Deed of Undertaking with the nominated lead organisation only.

9. What is a lead organisation?

If a joint application with one or more other organisations is submitted, the applicant must nominate a lead organisation for the application. The lead organisation for the project will, if the application is successful, sign the Deed of Undertaking, and assume legal responsibility for performing the requirements of the Deed of Undertaking.

10. When can we commence providing Medicare-eligible MRI services?

If your application for Medicare eligibility is successful, it is intended to be able to commence from 1 March 2019.

11. Can my organisation apply if it does not have an operational MRI unit at the time of application?

To apply for new MRI Medicare eligibility (Stream 2), organisations must have an operational MRI unit at the practice location by 31 December 2020, and purchase of the MRI unit must be able to be demonstrated by 30 April 2019. If an applicant is successful and the MRI unit is not operational by 31 December 2020, the Department may withdraw the offer to enter into a Deed and seek to allocate Medicare eligibility to a different MRI unit.

12. Can my organisation transfer its MRI Medicare eligibility to a different location before the closing time to lodge applications?

The Department will suspend making decisions on all non-essential permanent and temporary transfers of Medicare eligibility from the date of announcement of the ITA until the announcement of successful applicants.

13. Can my organisation transfer its upgraded or new MRI Medicare eligibility obtained as a result of the ITA process?

Organisations must be prepared to retain the MRI unit at the location specified in its application, for a minimum period of three years from from the execution of the Deed.

14. Who should I contact if I need more information?

All enquiries relating to this ITA process should be directed in writing to MRI.ITA@health.gov.au.

Please ensure that you allow sufficient time for your question to be answered and for your organisation to complete its application before the closing time.

15. How many services are claimed under Medicare for each Medicare-eligible machine?

The following is a table showing the average number of services claimed under Medicare per MRI unit in 2017-18.

Metropolitan (RA1)Non-metropolitan
Fully eligible machines
6,674
3,126
Partially eligible machines
2,132
Not able to be published
    16. Can I provide additional information to support my application, including business cases, case studies or petitions?

    The application form is the only document that is required and that will be assessed for this ITA. Additional information provided will not be assessed.

    17. Can every MRI currently provide Medicare eligible MRI services?

    No. Only providers of MRI services who have a Deed of Undertaking with the Commonwealth for either partial or full Medicare eligibility can provide Medicare eligible services. A list of all current Medicare eligible MRIs can be found on the Department’s website.

    18.I note that there are restrictions to transfers while the ITA process is underway. How do I know if a transfer that I was thinking about applying for would be able to be considered?

    You are still able to submit a request for transfer of Medicare eligible MRI, however you should be aware that, until successful applicants are announced, all non-essential transfers will only be considered if warranted by exceptional circumstances. This will be at the discretion of the Department.

    You should advise the Department as soon as you are aware a transfer is required during this time, and indicate your preferred dates for the transfer. The standard transfer processing time is not guaranteed during this ITA process.

    19. If I am considering installing an MRI at my practice, will the Department be able to provide me with data to determine potential throughput for my area?

    No, the Department is not able to provide data of this kind. The Department has provided data on the average number of services claimed under Medicare per Medicare eligible MRI unit (see question 15).

    20. If I work in a hospital that has multiple specialist MRI in different departments, can I apply for Medicare eligibility for MRI at the whole hospital on the basis that the hospital provides the complete range of services?

    No. Medicare eligibility for MRI is attributed to a specific machine not a facility. The Mandatory Criteria requires that the MRI unit will provide all MRI services listed on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) (excluding breast and cardiac).

    21. I am applying for an MRI unit that will be installed and operational by 31 December 2020. Do you require evidence such as lease agreements or purchase orders to demonstrate this?

    No, you do not need to provide any evidence of an operational MRI at the time you lodge your application. By completing the ITA application form you are providing confirmation that you will have MRI facilities operational (as well as all other legislative requirements to provide Medicare eligible services) by 31 December 2020. You will need to provide evidence that a MRI unit has been purchased by 30 April 2019, before an offer of a Deed will be made.

    If you are successful, an offer of Medicare eligibility will be made on the condition of meeting all requirements for the provision of Medicare eligible MRI services by 31 December 2020. If you do not meet this requirement the Department will consider revoking and reallocating the offer of Medicare eligibility.

    22. How was the number of fully Medicare eligible MRI units per 100,000 population determined for each Primary Health Network (PHN)?

    The location of all fully eligible MRI units can be found on the Department’s website.

    The distribution of fully eligible MRI units in each PHN was determined using the PHN boundaries and population.

    23. If a private provider operating from a hospital location (via a contractual arrangement) has existing Medicare eligibility for an MRI located at that hospital, can the hospital separately apply for Medicare eligibility at the same location in case the contractual arrangements with the private provider cease?

    No, as outlined in the ITA, applicants can only apply if there is no fully Medicare eligible MRI unit at the practice location to which the application relates.

    24. Before this expansion process was announced, I made a submission to the Minister for Health or Department of Health seeking MRI Medicare eligibility. Can the submission be considered as an application through this ITA process?

    No, previous enquiries/submissions will not be considered. You will need to make an application using the ITA Application Form.

    25. If our public hospital has not yet got a business case approved for the purchase of MRI equipment, can we still apply as part of this application round?

    Yes. There is no requirement to provide evidence of the purchase of MRI equipment until April 2019.

    26. Can I arrange a face-to-face meeting with the Department of Health during the ITA process to provide background information or evidence in support of my application?
    The Department will not meet with any potential applicant during the ITA application process. This will ensure the assessment process is fair and equitable for applicants.

    27. Will a portion of the Government’s announced $175 million investment be provided to assist with purchasing MRI equipment?
    The Invitation to Apply is solely for the provision of Medicare-eligibility for MRI services at 20 locations across Australia. There is no provision for funding of MRI equipment as part of this process.

    28. If I provide supplementary documentation do I need to provide it in both Word and PDF?
    Please refer to Question 16 regarding supplementary documentation. We discourage the provision of additional information. However, if you feel obliged to provide information in addition to the application form you do not need to provide two versions.

    29. Do I need to submit the entire ITA form as my application or just Appendix 3?
    To successfully lodge an application you must include all the information requested on the Application Form at Appendix 3. We ask that you provide 2 versions of that form (only). A copy of the application form (in Word and PDF) is on the website under the heading ‘Lodgement of Application’.

    30. We are intending on upgrading our MRI machine from a 1.5T to a 3T. How do we advise of this in our application?
    Under the ‘Equipment’ section in the Application Form please select the magnet strength that relates to the equipment you are applying for. If an upgrade is planned that will change the magnet strength of the MRI please indicate this in the ‘additional comments’ section of the question, noting the expected date of upgrade. Your application will be assessed with the equipment that you currently have available.

    31. If our application is successful, will we be able to upgrade our equipment in the future?
    Yes, equipment can be upgraded once Medicare eligibility for MRI has been granted.

    32. If my application is successful and my partial Medicare eligibility is upgraded to full Medicare eligibility, what services can I claim?
    Full Medicare eligibility means that all MRI items listed on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) will attract Medicare rebates. This includes both GP-requested items and specialist requested items.

    33. As a public hospital (rather than the MRI service provider) can I make an application on behalf of the hospital?
    The Department will consider applications from entities that provide MRI services. If your hospital provides MRI services, then you can make an application (subject to the requirements of each Stream). However, if your hospital has a contract for the external provision of MRI services, the application would be from the provider of the MRI. The Deed would be entered into with the entity that makes the MRI services available.

    34. Can the Department provide advice on who can sign the declaration in the application form?
    The Department can not provide advice on who within an organisation can sign the declaration in the application form. It is important to note, however, that the person that signs the declaration should also have the authority to enter into the Deed.

    35. The information that is needed for this ITA process is very different to previous processes. Have you streamlined the process, or am I misreading the ITA?
    The Department has streamlined the process. Consistent with Part 7 of the ITA, an application must include the information requested on the Application Form, which must be completed in both Microsoft Word and PDF versions. Supplementary information is not required (see Question 16).

    36. Can I propose an alternative approach to the current ITA process?
    No. Any feedback will be taken into consideration if there are any future expansions to MRI eligibility.

    37. A question in the Application Form asks ‘What is the estimated population of the patient catchment for the location of the MRI unit?’ What is meant by the term ‘patient catchment’ for the MRI unit?
    Patient catchment refers to the area from which the practice attracts a population that uses its services.

    38. A question in the Application Form asks ‘What other medical services are available in the catchment population area identified above?’ Do these ‘other medical services’ need to be at the same site as the MRI or within the entire catchment?
    This question is not limited to the location of the MRI unit, rather it is seeking information on services available within the entire catchment area for the MRI unit identified in the application.

    39. If I don’t have an MRI unit yet how do I complete the section on the equipment details?
    Where you do not know information about a proposed MRI (e.g. the serial number) please write ‘TBA’ (to be advised). If you know some of the information (e.g. the magnet strength) please provide this information in the appropriate section.

    40. How do I determine the number of medical practitioners likely to request MRI services from the practice?
    This should be based on medical practitioners within your patient catchment who currently refer, or are expected to refer patients to your practice.

    41. What process will be followed with regard to the announcement of successful ITA applicants and when can we expect to receive a response?
    The Department anticipates that outcomes of the ITA process will be made available in the near future. The Department will contact successful applicants after they have been selected, to discuss the preparation of a Deed to enable commencement from 1 March 2019 where possible. The Department will notify unsuccessful applicants after it has notified all successful applicants.

    42. Are there going to be more allocations of Medicare-eligible MRI than the 20 originally announced for the ITA process? When will announcements be made?
    On 4 February 2019 the Government announced further investment in the MRI program, bringing the total of MRI units to receive Medicare eligibility to 50. The additional locations will be announced shortly. Further information can be found on the Ministers for Health media release web page

    43. What announcements have been made? (updated)
    As at 4 April 2019 the following locations have been announced as receiving MRI Medicare eligibility under the Government’s expansion of Medicare-eligible MRI units:

    STATELocation
    NSWMount Druitt Hospital
    NSWNorthern Beaches Hospital, Frenchs Forest
    NSWSouth East Radiology, Moruya
    NSWSt George Hospital, Kogarah
    NSWWagga Wagga Base Hospital
    NSWTamworth Hospital
    NSWManning Rural Referral Hospital, Taree
    NSWDubbo Hospital
    NSWNepean Blue Mountains Local Health District - Lithgow Hospital
    NSWRouse Hill Medical Imaging, Rouse Hill
    NSWPRP Diagnostic Imaging Norwest, Norwest Private Hospital
    NSWChris O'Brien Lifehouse, Camperdown
    NSWPicadilly Centre – Illawarra Medical Imaging, Wollongong
    NSWHigh Street Medical Imaging, Penrith
    ACTCanberra Imaging Group, Calvary Bruce Private Hospital
    VICEpworth Geelong Hospital
    VICMonash Children's Hospital, Clayton
    VICSale Hospital
    VICCabrini Hospital Brighton
    VICNorthern Hospital, Epping
    VICMIA Warringal Radiology, Heidelberg
    VICMIA Radiology, Lilydale
    VICDiagnostiCare, Keilor East
    VICThe Royal Women’s Hospital, Parkville
    VICHolmesglen Private Hospital, Moorabbin
    VICSt John of God Hospital, Berwick
    VICImaging @ Olympic Park, Melbourne
    QLDCairns Radiology
    QLDCentral Queensland Radiology, Gladstone
    QLDGympie Radiology
    QLDIpswich Hospital
    QLDPindara Private Hospital, Benowa
    QLDQscan Carindale
    QLDRedcliffe Hospital
    QLDToowoomba Hospital
    QLDUniting Care Medical Imaging, Buderim Private Hospital
    QLDQScan Upper Coomera
    QLDQueensland X-Ray, Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Hospital, Coopers Plains
    QLDSt Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, Spring Hill
    QLDI-Med Radiology Thuringowa
    SADr Jones & Partners, Mount Barker
    SAThe Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woodville South
    SASound Radiology, Parkside
    SARiverland General Hospital, Berri
    WAFiona Stanley Hospital, Murdoch
    WAInSight Clinical Imaging, Cannington
    WAKalgoorlie Health Campus
    WAPerth Radiological Clinic, Rockingham
    WASKG Radiology, Mandurah
    WASt John of God Midland Public and Private Hospital
    WAEnvision Medical Imaging, Wembley
    NTRoyal Darwin Hospital
    TASRegional Imaging, Devonport