Budget will extend funding for Medicare heart health assessments

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The 2023-24 Budget will include a two-year extension of Medicare item numbers for heart health assessments.

Health minister Mark Butler confirmed the measure to extend Medicare items 177 and 699 until 30 June 2025 to ensure general practitioners can identify the risk of heart attack or stroke in patients who have not previously been diagnosed with heart disease.  

He said the check, which takes less than 30 minutes, means GPs can work with patients to adjust their lifestyle or prescribe medicines to lower any identified risk of heart disease. 

The items will also be amended to remove restrictions preventing First Nations people from claiming a heart health assessment within 12 months of an annual health check. 

Heart disease is responsible for almost 1-in-10 deaths and 6 per cent of Australia’s total disease burden. Each day 438 Australians are hospitalised with coronary heart disease. 

“Heart disease is Australia’s biggest killer – one Australian has a heart attack or stroke every 4 minutes," said Mr Butler.

“About 2.5 million Australians have a high chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke in the next 5 years, and many don’t know it.  

“Talking to your GP about your heart health save lives, helping to prevent or catch heart disease early so that patients and doctors can take action to reduce the risk before it’s too late. 

“The former Government would have had these crucial heart health assessments expire on 30 June 2023 but with about 250,000 people expected receive a heart health assessment over the next 2 years, our government’s action on this has the potential to save thousands of lives.”