The birth of a Medicare item: evidence, politics and cardiovascular disease

Image of a medicare card

This is the story about the creation of a rare addition to the Australian health care system – a new item on the Medicare Benefits Schedule for primary health care. The story involves killer stats, at least two people
with compulsive communication disorder, an election and News Corp.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is highly preventable but remains a leading cause of premature morbidity and mortality in Australia. Staff at NCEPH have worked for a number of years towards improving the prevention
and treatment of CVD in Australia. This work has included: highlighting that almost one million Australians are at high risk of CVD but not on recommended pharmacotherapy; working with stakeholders to advocate
for increased attention to this preventable disease and undertaking a project with the Department of Health to improve best practice assessment and management of CVD for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
This seminar will highlight NCEPH’s role in the development of the newly implemented ‘Heart Health Assessment’ Medicare item and the contextual factors that led to its rapid implementation. In the seminar I
will use this new MBS item as a case study on how NCEPH has built the case for change and engaged government with the evidence, demonstrate tools for stakeholder engagement, and discuss some not very
traditional academic roles in influencing change.

About Jason

Jason is a GP and an epidemiologist who has worked mainly in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. He is the clinical lead on an implementation project funded by the Australian Government that aims to improve
uptake of absolute risk assessment of cardiovascular disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Jason works across NCEPH and the ANU Medical School and continues to work as a GP at Gurriny Yealamucka, an Aboriginal community controlled health service in Yarrabah. Through his training in the MAE Jason worked at the National
Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the National Health Performance Authority (NHPA) before coming to the ANU. His approach to implementation is informed by his experiences as a clinician,
epidemiologist and from working with and within government.