Time is right for a 'European health guarantee'

Victor Negrescu hopes to ensure 'better pan-European cooperation' in healthcare to improve the lives of Europe's citizens.

By Victor Negrescu

Victor Negrescu (RO, S&D) is a vice-chair of Parliament’s Culture and Education Committee and a member of Parliament’s Budgets Committee

03 Oct 2014

I believe that the new European budget for 2015 should bring fresh ideas from the parliament in order to create better communication with the European citizens and prove to them that the EU really is working in their interest. Therefore, as a member of parliament's budgets committee, I have decided to submit an amendment that will enable better pan-European cooperation in the field of healthcare.

Entitled 'A European health guarantee', the amendment to the EU budget aims to help treat European patients in any EU country and ensures the right to patient mobility through a fund that will correct the flows of the current mechanisms. Currently, a patient seeking treatment in another country has to fulfil several bureaucratic procedures that will result in the partial refund of the medical costs from the state of origin.

"I think that Europe needs to get more involved in healthcare issues because this topic represents a major concern for all Europeans and we need to give Europeans complete mobility as patients"

This generates two major problems: a time gap between the medical need, the actual treatment and the time of repayment from the country that greatly affects the chances for the patient, especially  in the case of emergency; and a difference of payment when the amount to be settled is greater than the cost of equivalent treatment in the country of origin.

Both cases produce the carryover of patient's treatment and thus worsening of their health, which may involve higher costs of treatment later. Therefore, I believe it is necessary to create a fund for patients' mobility designed to ensure these payments before the state of origin is capable of actually reimbursing the costs.

In my amendment to the European budget, I proposed that this fund should, in the first stage, be financially supported through the EU budget, whereas the member states will contribute punctually with the reimbursement of expenses generated by their own citizens. In the case of important differences between the costs of equivalent treatment, the fund will apply the European solidarity principle by supporting the financial differences.

I truly believe that it is very important to change how people look at Europe. We need to prove as members of parliament that we can propose ideas that will improve lives. Therefore, I think that Europe needs to get more involved in healthcare issues because this topic represents a major concern for all Europeans and we need to give Europeans complete mobility as patients.

My projects in the social and healthcare field don't stop here. I also want to implement a pilot project designed to improve access to healthcare in rural areas. The project was already positively evaluated by the commission during the preliminary proposal stage, and I hope to get the vote of MEPs for the 2015 budget.

I hope that I will have the support of the commission, which since 2004 has stressed, in several of its communications, that accessibility to healthcare is one of the three pillars of the EU agenda for health systems.

I believe that access to healthcare in rural areas is a particular problem in different member states as populations move to urban areas. My proposal will contribute to reducing variation in accessibility to healthcare and to ensuring equitable access in rural areas within and across member states.

Good practices on policies and tools used to improve access to healthcare in rural areas would be identified and exchanged through my pilot project, taking into account dimensions such as access to facilities and to medical professionals, as well as cost and affordability of healthcare, optimal size of healthcare services and the possibility for cross-border collaboration between member states.

 

Read the most recent articles written by Victor Negrescu - Europe in Recovery: Europe’s cultural and creative sectors

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