Cross-Border Health Care : Three-Way Meeting Reaches Compromise

European Social Policy, January 13, 2011 | Go to article overview

Cross-Border Health Care : Three-Way Meeting Reaches Compromise


During a three-way meeting organised within the framework of its second reading, on 15 December 2010, the Belgian EU Presidency, the European Parliament's rappoteur and the Commission achieved a compromise on the directive on cross-border health care, which aims to clarify patients' rights when health care is provided in a member state other than that in which the recipient of the care is resident, including the question of refunds for care costs.

If this agreement in principle is actually approved by the co-legislators, it will mean that a patient being cared for in another member state can expect equal recompense for the same or similara treatment as would be provided by his or her own national health system, if so entitled in his or her own state. The very important question of refunding and its coordination was the central subject of discussion in the latter three-way meeting, and the compromise achieved also addresses the questions of quality and safety, rare diseases and finally online health care.

REFUND AND REFUSAL

The Belgian EU Presidency and the European Parliament agreed on a system of prior authorisation, which will make it possible to control the flow of patients planning to be cared for in another member state. The services that this authorisation will affect will be hospital care, specialised care, patients at particular risk and treatment that could raise serious concerns.

In addition, the agreement clarifies the cases that justify the refusal of a member state's prior authorisation. Member states previously demanded the extension of the list of cases in which prior authorisation could be refused by the member state of affiliation and MEPs, led by French rapporteur Francoise Grossetete (EPP), defended their clear and exhaustive list of reasons for justifying refusals.

Finally, the compromise represents a partial victory for MEPs in that it has removed several reasons for refusal, including the time limit during which a member state may refuse to provide prior authorisation if the care can be provided on its own territory within an acceptable time, taking into account the patient's health status and the probable evolution of his or her malady, which had not won the Parliament's approval. …

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