In 2008, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Directive on the application of patient’s rights in cross-border healthcare. The proposal aims to help patients exercise their rights to cross border health care in order to codify the case law of the EU Court of Justice.
The EU Member States have been widely divided on the need for such legislative proposal and on how this area should be regulated. Several Member states fear loss of national sovereignty over healthcare and that such proposal could have a negative impact on their ability to organise their respective national health systems or on the safety and security of patients. Nevertheless, the European Parliament and the Council reached an agreement on the proposal last December, and the European Parliament has recently endorsed the compromise deal, adopting, at second reading, the proposal. The Council is expected to formally adopt the Directive in March. Then, the Member States will have till 2013 to transpose it into national law.
The Commission’s original proposal would have made more difficult for the Member States to require prior authorisation for reimbursement of hospital treatment provided in another Member State, restricting, in this way, the Member States responsibility for deciding entitlement to healthcare. The Council was, therefore, able to water down the Commission proposal.