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New Medicare items announced


The cost of some treatments for heart disease, epilepsy, stroke, breast cancer, lymphoma and liver tumours are set to become much cheaper for thousands of Australians.

Health Minister Greg Hunt (pictured) has announced 33 treatments will be subsidised by Medicare from today, helping thousands of Australians reduce their medical bills.

The move by the government is based on recommendations from the independent Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC).

More than 2000 people a year with slow growing non-Hodgkin lymphoma, or lymphatic cancer, will have the costs of positron emission tomography (PET) imaging subsidised so doctors can monitor the progress of the disease.

Another 800 patients who are not eligible for open heart surgery will instead be able to receive a subsidised transcatheter aortic valve implant to replace damaged aortic valves.

Hundreds of other patients with irregular heart rhythms but who are unable to take blood-thinning medication, will have access to a device which can lower their risk of stroke.

Stroke patients will also be given access to a new treatment to mechanically remove blood clots from the brain.

Other treatments added to the Medicare subsidy list include vagus nerve stimulation therapy for management of treatment resistant epilepsy, and microwave tissue ablation for patients with primary liver tumours that can’t be treated by conventional surgery.

Under plans announced in October, women with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer will also be able to undergo free genetic tests to see if they are at risk of developing the potentially deadly diseases.

You can access the list of new items here.