Joint Media Release with Minister For Health The Hon Greg Hunt MP
The Coalition Government will ensure that Territorians at risk of heart disease receive timely and appropriate medical advice with the creation of a new Medicare item for heart health checks.
Country Liberals Senator for the Northern Territory, Nigel Scullion, said from April 1 this year a new dedicated MBS item for heart health checks will support General Practitioners and patients in assessing cardiovascular risk.
“The CLP is deeply committed to tackling Australia’s biggest killer – heart disease. One Australian dies of cardiovascular disease every 12 minutes, with one Australian experiencing a heart attack or stroke every five minutes,” Senator Scullion said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said this dedicated Medicare item for heart heath checks will save and protect lives.
“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,” Minister Hunt said.
Senator Scullion said the Coalition Government is also investing $35 million in the development of a vaccine to combat rheumatic heart disease (RHD), a deadly and devastating illness largely affecting Indigenous communities.
“This is a game-changing step towards the eradication of rheumatic heart disease. The funding, from the Medical Research Future Fund, will allow manufacture and testing of a number of vaccines currently being developed, fast-tracking clinical trials in Australia to accelerate availability of a vaccine,” Senator Scullion said.
“Indigenous children and young adults in the Northern Territory are estimated to suffer from RHD at more than 100 times the rate of their non-Indigenous counterparts.
“This is about saving lives – more than 6,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are living with Rheumatic Heart Disease and RHD takes the lives of up of 150 of these people each year – and many of these are young people,” Senator Scullion said.
“In the Territory, there are 1,890 people with Rheumatic Heart Disease, 97 per cent are Indigenous.
“This new $35 million investment toward a vaccine is on top of The Coalition Government’s significant investment in RHD prevention in the NT, of $7.3 million over four years to the Menzies School of Health Research for education and training and the NT Government for secondary prevention activities.”
Senator Scullion 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 a cardiologist
- Electrocardiogram tests (ECG)
- Exercise ECG
- Stress (exercise) ECG
- Cardiac ECG
- Coronary angiography
- Computed tomography coronary arteries
- Chest x-ray
- Electrophysiology studies
- Cholesterol tests
- Lipid tests
- Glucose test
Senator Scullion said since 2013, the Coalition Government has provided $662.2 million for research into cardiovascular disease and provided $7.7 billion to subsidise medicine to treat cardiovascular disease on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).