33 new Medicare services available for cancers, heart disease


From 1 November, thousands of Australian patients and their families will be able to access new Medicare supported treatments for breast and ovarian cancer, heart disease, epilepsy, stroke, lymphoma and liver tumours.

Women with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer will be supported through a new genetic testing through the BRCA 1 and 2 genetic tests.

The new Medicare services will be available to women who are diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, following an assessment by a medical specialist.  If they are found to have the mutations, their close relatives will also be eligible for testing through Medicare.

A total of 33 new Medicare items are being made available, following the Turnbull Government’s decision to implement recommendations from independent Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC).

An estimated 800 patient s a year, who are not suitable for open heart surgery, will be able to receive Medicare support for a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI), an innovative minimally invasive procedure to replace aortic valves with disease.

More than 2,000 patients with slow growing non-Hodgkin lymphoma (lymphatic cancer) will benefit by accessing PET (positron emission tomography) imaging, allowing patients and their doctors to monitor the progress of the disease using nuclear medicine diagnostic services.

More than 700 patients a year, who cannot take blood-thinning medication, will now be able to access a new service to insert a device which can lower the risk of stroke in people who have an irregular heart rhythm.

Stroke patients will also receive Medicare access for mechanical thrombectomy, an important new treatment to mechanically remove blood clots from the brain, minimise damage and greatly improve patients’ prognosis.

Around 200 people a year are expected to undergo this procedure which is used to dissolve blood clots, or for patients who are not suitable for medication therapy.

In addition, six new Medicare items will be added for vagus nerve stimulation therapy for management of treatment resistant epilepsy.

Microwave tissue ablation for primary liver tumours will also be added as an alternative to radio frequency ablation treatment for patients who have tumours that cannot be treated by conventional surgery.

MSAC provides independent advice to the Australian Government on the safety, clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness of new medical technologies and procedures.

The Turnbull Government has a rock solid commitment to Medicare, bulk billing and the PBS and our Long Term National Health Plan will ensure that Australians will continue to be supported by one of the best health systems in the world, long into the future.


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