EU Cancer Patients Concerns Heard: Cancer Patient Mobility Moves Closer to a Reality. The following article was taken from a European Cancer Patient Coalition press release.

A “yes” vote in the European Parliament’s public health committee [on October 27, 2010] has paved the way for cancer patients to get medical treatment anywhere in European Union.

The draft directive aims at clarifying and strengthening the rights of patients who have to seek treatment in another Member State.

Tom Hudson, ECPC President stated “We very much welcome today’s vote which sends a strong signal to all Member States of a future system that would put cancer patient’s needs at the center and allow them to access treatment aboard when necessary. ECPC will support the proposal which ensures our key concerns are highlighted when the vote takes place in January 2011.”

There were 227 amendments to the plan, and six consolidated amendments, but handshakes were made over the following three points:

• Patients can seek medical care in another country without prior authorization. However, for hospital stays and specialized care, patients could need preauthorization from their national health system.

• A country could only refuse to authorize cross-border care in a very limited number of circumstances. Prior authorization systems should rely on clear and transparent criteria so as not to hamper the steps taken by patients who need to resort to healthcare treatments in another Member state

• Europeans rare cancer patients would be covered under the proposed law.

One of the key points of the ECPC’s position, reflected in today’s vote, was to ensure an adequate codification of the existing ECJ case law in order to avoid any new legal uncertainty or loopholes for cancer patients, while maintaining the financial and organizational sustainability of national healthcare systems that treat cancer patients in their own Member States.

While cancer patients don’t like to be cared for far from home in another member state, should they want or need to, they should be entitled to the same rights for information, treatment and reimbursement. It was also important to include mechanisms preventing, as much as possible, patients from having to pay in advance for the costs of crossborder healthcare. Information is also a key point when each Member State will be obliged to maintain national contact points to inform patients about the availability of healthcare.

For further information please contact: Denis Horgan ECPC Head of External Affairs at +32 (0) 472 535 104,