Polish health minister wants head of fund to go

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s health minister said Wednesday he is seeking the dismissal of the state health fund’s head in a dispute over uninsured patients.

The National Health Fund, which pays state-run hospitals and outpatient departments for all medical procedures, has been criticized for the long waits — sometimes years — to see a specialist or have surgery.

Those who can afford it pay for visits at private clinics or for surgeries, but this option is mostly available in big cities.

Health Minister Bartosz Arlukowicz said the fund is slow in checking how many uninsured Poles are entitled to state-paid health care, but is quick in asking the government for more money. Prime Minister Donald Tusk is weighing whether to fire the head of the fund, Agnieszka Pachciarz.

Pachciarz wants the government to pay about 700 million zlotys ($230 million) for medical care extended to uninsured people like drug addicts or alcoholics. She said Wednesday the fund doesn’t receive enough funding.

Tusk urged the minister on Tuesday to funnel more money into health care and make the system work better for the patients.

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