Doubts are mounting in parliament about the way the Dutch health service regulator NZa is functioning, given the weekend’s revelations about the director accepting trips funded by drugs firms, the NRC reports on Monday.
The doubts come at a time when parliament is preparing to give health insurers more powers to determine where policyholders get treatment and the NZa will have a major role in ensuring this is done fairly.
On Wednesday parliament will debate health ministry plans to allow insurers to curtail freedom of choice for patients, the NRC says.
The NRC reported at the weekend that NZa chairman Theo Langejan has been on at least 16 trips paid for by companies and healthcare institutions since 2010. In April 2012, he spent four days in a hotel on the French Rivièra, courtesy of drugs company Pfizer. The suite where he stayed cost €700 a night, the paper said.
The NZa decides which medicines are covered by Dutch health insurance, and that includes Pfizer drugs, the NRC points out.
The new rules will come into effect on January 1 next year. ‘Then we need to be able to have confidence in the regulator,’ said Labour MP Lea Bouwmeester.
Earlier this year, the NZa was embroiled in another scandal when whistleblower Arthur Gotlieb killed himself after handing over evidence that confidential information about patients was not being held securely by the NZa.
This weekend, MPs from the SP, GroenLinks and PVV demanded Langejan stand down because of the problems.
‘The minister has to intervene. Everything appears to be wrong at the NZA. How does she plan to restore confidence in the regulator?’ said Socialist MP Henk van Gerven. ‘This problem is greater than its chairman.’
Unlike most regulators, the NZa falls under the direct responsibility of the minister and does not have a supervisory board.
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