European Hospital & Healthcare Employers’ Association

HOSPEEM Position Statement on the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare

On the 2nd July 2008, the European Commission published its proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare. This follows the open consultation that the Commission ran between September 2006 and January 2007 which came in response to a series of European Court of Justice (ECJ) Judgments on health services in the European Union.  The ECJ-Judgements stated that, under certain conditions, EU citizens were entitled to access healthcare in another Member State and be reimbursed for this treatment by their national health systems. The judgments have created uncertainty surrounding the interpretation of case law at European level for patients and for the national healthcare systems.

HOSPEEM supports the desire to establish legal certainty regarding patients’ rights in relation to healthcare treatment in other EU Member States, thus avoiding the situation whereby the ECJ exercises political authority in the field by virtue of its rulings in individual cases. However, the Directive goes beyond the rulings of the ECJ, both in relation to the scope and the content of the Directive, most notably in relation to prior authorisation systems.

HOSPEEM questions that Article 95 of the EC Treaty, relating to internal market harmonisation, is the proper legal basis for a Directive on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare.  In contrast to the view of the European Commission, HOSPEEM sees a fundamental conflict between Article 95 and the principles enshrined in Article 152 of the EC Treaty which outline the responsibilities of the Member States to fund, organise and deliver health services.

FULL TEXT: HOSPEEM Position Statement