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The government has adopted a bill on free medicines for children and seniors

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On Monday, the government adopted a bill providing for the extension of the circle of people who are entitled to free medicines to include children under 18 and seniors over 65, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced at a conference in Wołomin. As he said, he will strive for the bill to be adopted by the Sejm as soon as possible.

Morawiecki said that so far about three million seniors have benefited from the “Medicines for seniors 75 plus” program, and now it will be about 14-15 million people. – Including 6-7 million children and young people and about 7-8 million seniors, pensioners, retirees – all those over 65 – he added.

– We care about the youngest generation, which is our future, but also about those who worked for our present, about our mothers, fathers, grandparents and grandmothers – said the head of the government.

He also stated that “this is a completely different program of solidarity between generations”, as well as “another billion zlotys”, which “are secured in the budget”.

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Prime Minister: They will strive for the Sejm to adopt the bill on free drugs as soon as possible

Morawiecki, when asked during this conference about when the Sejm will deal with this project, pointed out that there are still two sessions of the Sejm in July. – I will strive for this bill to be passed as soon as possible (to the Sejm – ed.), so that seniors can be sure that it will be adopted by the Sejm as soon as possible – said the head of the government.

– I’m very optimistic. I will try to make it happen as soon as possible, he added.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Minister of Health Adam Niedzielski in Wołomin PAP/Andrzej Lange

Niedzielski: the goal is 4,000 available drugs

Minister of Health Adam Niedzielski he said that “there is no question of reforming the health care system without additional expenditure”.

– The guarantee we gave in the so-called 7 percent act that these outlays on the health care system will systematically increase is a guarantee that we can undertake new projects, new programs, such as the program we are talking about today – drugs available to seniors above 65 years of age and for children aged 0-18, he said.

He explained that the project adopted on Monday assumes “extending the age group and is the basis for building a new reimbursement list, a special list (…), where drugs will be available for free”.

– At the same time, we discussed the fact that we are not only increasing the age group, but also expanding the availability of those drugs that are currently available in the 75 plus program. At the moment (…) we have over 2,000 drugs available, but the goal is to lead to a situation where the full list of reimbursed drugs, i.e. over 4,000 items, will be available in this program 65 plus and 0-18 – said Niedzielski.

READ IN CONTRACT24: Drugs for seniors “twice free”? How is it with these free drugs

Niedzielski: the program will cost PLN 2.4 billion a year

He informed that the 75 plus program from the beginning of its operation, i.e. from 2016, cost a total of PLN 4.5 billion. – These PLN 4.5 billion were found thanks to better management of public finances and thanks to the tightening of the tax system. This program in the last year of full operation, i.e. in 2022, cost nearly 800 million. What we will do now, taking this step of expanding the age group, but also increasing the list of available drugs, is an additional PLN 1.6 billion, so in total this program will cost the state almost PLN 2.4 billion in one year. These are huge resources. Without additional funds from the tax system, the state would not be able to afford this project, he assessed.

According to Niedzielski, the 65 plus program is a “new opening”. – This is to show that accessibility for people who need care the most, are the most vulnerable – I am talking here primarily about seniors – to multiple diseases, is a priority from the government’s point of view and we have just made this decision – he said.

A bill on free medicines for children under 18 and seniors over 65

In the explanatory memorandum to the draft amendment to the Act on health care services financed from public funds and the Act on the reimbursement of medicines, foodstuffs for particular nutritional uses and medical devices, it was written that the above-mentioned groups of people are among those in which the need for medicines, foodstuffs for particular nutritional uses and medical devices is the largest.

A specific list of medicines, foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional uses and medical devices will be announced by the Minister of Health in an announcement – separately for persons under 18 and separately for patients over 65 years of age.

Niedzielski: maternity wards will adapt to a smaller number of births

Niedzielski was also asked about the next closed gynecological and obstetric wards. – Aside from all the aspects of will and politics, demographics work first. Unfortunately, we have a decreasing number of births, we have a decreasing share of children in society, hence maternity wards or pediatric wards will naturally adapt to their size, the size on a national scale, to meet the demand – he said.

– Secondly, we are also dealing here with a situation where women have their own right to choose where they want to give birth. It is not the minister of health, it is not the prime minister, it is not anyone else who decides where a woman will give birth, it is the woman who decides directly, he pointed out.

As he said, “we have centers that are characterized by a high degree of reference, reputation, if I may say so, and this is where women want to go.” – And there are units, unfortunately, that either do not meet the quality requirements or are not popular for very different reasons, and the “voting with their feet” that women do simply makes such units unable to survive – added.

– Thirdly, (…), please remember that there must be some kind of agreement between neighboring hospitals, which sometimes compete with each other within 10, 20 or 30 kilometers with a maternity ward, and this is simply not rational behavior – he said Sunday.

– That’s why we, I’m talking about the Ministry (Health) and the National Health Fund, are persuading starosts to make decisions together. These are not separate islands, I am talking about counties and county hospitals, this is a situation in which coordination and cooperation are necessary – he stressed.

Main photo source: PAP/Andrzej Lange

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