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Budget 2023: Secretary of Health Mark Butler extends life of Heart Health Check


A program to help save Australians from the country’s biggest killer has received an injection into next week’s budget.

Health Secretary Mark Butler will extend the life of the Heart Health Check for another two years over concerns that the screening test was on the chopping block.

Under the program, people aged 45 and over and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders aged 30 and over are eligible for a free heart attack or stroke risk assessment during a 20-minute GP consultation

It has been subsidized by Medicare since 2019. Since then, more than 455,000 tests have been performed nationwide.

Mr Butler is under pressure to either extend the rebate, which was due to expire in June, or make it permanent in the May budget.

He blamed uncertainty over the future of “critical heart health assessments” on the previous government.

“With approximately 250,000 people expected to receive a heart health assessment over the next two years, our government’s action in this area has the potential to save thousands of lives,” the health minister said.

The Heart Foundation estimates that 67,000 heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease could be prevented in high-risk Australians over a five-year period.

Chief executive David Lloyd welcomed the program’s “critical extension”.

“It shows that this is a government that is listening to Australians and understands the important role that prevention can play in saving lives from heart disease, which continues to be our country’s leading cause of death and a major burden on our healthcare system,” he said. .

Every day, 438 Australians are hospitalized with coronary heart disease, with one person dying from the condition every 30 minutes.

It is the leading cause of death for men and the second leading cause of death for women, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing.

The controls have seen a major uptick in acceptance, having been left behind by Covid, following the deaths of cricketing legend Shane Warne from suspected heart disease and Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.