Heart Foundation urges the Australian Government to back the Heart Checks in 2023/24 Budget
The Heart Foundation is concerned that the Australian Government is yet to renew funding for vital Heart Health Checks which have so far helped more than 420,000 Australians understand their heart health and develop prevention plans with the support of their GPs.
Making Heart Health Checks a permanent item on the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) is now the Foundation’s highest priority of three initiatives it has proposed to Government for inclusion in the 2023/24 Federal Budget.
Heart Health Checks were introduced to the MBS as temporary items 699 and 177 in 2019.
Australians took up Heart Health Checks in record numbers in 2022 as they emerged from pandemic restrictions, resulting in significant growth in Heart Health Checks from 2021.
Despite the demand, the Checks have been left to expire on 30 June this year – just 100 days out from today.
With the countdown now on, Heart Foundation CEO David Lloyd urged the Government not to take Australia backwards in its fight against cardiovascular disease – the nation’s number one killer.
“Prevention is still the best cure – not only for the heart health of Australians but now also for the nation’s overwhelmed healthcare system,” Mr Lloyd said.
“More people live with cardiovascular disease than die from it – now the challenge is to shift the nation’s mindset to one that helps people avoid it altogether, to prevent the strain on our hospital and primary care system and improve the overall health and wellbeing of Australians.
“Change will not happen overnight, and so it is crucial that the Government consider the smaller cost of prevention now.
“If nothing changes, we can expect to see 1.37 million Australians experience a cardiovascular event before 2029.
“This would result in $62 billion in healthcare costs and $79 billion in indirect costs.
“In order to save lives and save money, it’s crucial that we act now and not later.
“Right now, the Heart Health Check is the only Medicare item available in Australia dedicated specifically to the early detection and prevention of heart disease, to let it expire would be a huge loss.”