Health Reform Patients

A Political Heart-to-Heart

Have you ever heard the saying “with a healthy heart, the beat goes on?” Well, it seems no one missed a beat this week when Minister Hunt and Shadow Minister King had their own little heart to heart.

This week Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, announced the creation of a new Medicare item for heart health checks. A day later, Shadow Minister for Health, Catherine King, announced that a future Labor Government would invest $170 million in Medicare to take on cardiovascular disease.

The Hunt announcement:

From 1 April 2019, a new dedicated MBS item for health check will support General Practitioners and patients in assessing cardiovascular risk. The independent medical experts at the Medical Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce will also conduct a review with the potential for further development of this new Medicare item.

The King announcement:

The Opposition hopes its investment promise will prevent an estimated 76,500 heart attacks and strokes over five years. King stated the investment would ensure that all at-risk Aussies can undergo heart health checks as part of a comprehensive vascular screen that tests their blood pressure and looks at lifestyle factors such as smoking status.

So, what’s the key take away from this story? Well, as Minister Hunt said: “anyone who is concerned about their heart health should always ask their GP for a check-up”. Currently there are a range of Medicare items that cover services and tests where people may have heart disease or are at risk of heart disease including:

  • Specialist consultations with cardiologists;
  • Electrocardiograms tests (ECG);
  • Exercise ECG;
  • Stress (exercise) ECG;
  • Cardiac ECG;
  • Coronary angiography;
  • Computer tomography coronary arteries;
  • Chest X-ray;
  • Electrophysiology studies;
  • Cholesterol tests;
  • Lipid tests; and
  • Glucose test.

KEY INSIGHT: One Australian dies of cardiovascular disease every 12 minutes, with one Australian experiencing a heart attach or stroke very five minutes.

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