On 17 November, EPHA took part in a roundtable discussion as part of a conference entitled ’’Vivre l’Europe 2012 - Questions de sante en Europe’’, organised by the Maison de l’Europe in Nantes, France. The debate served to bring the debate over the challenges faced by European health systems closer to citizens, and it also crystallised the differences between the French health system and differing modalities in neighbouring countries.
The first part of the roundtable debate focused on the organisation of health systems, the differences between countries, and the impact of health system organisation on health inqualities in the Member State. The main focus here lay in a comparison of the French system - marked by comparatively high expenditures and low inequalities but also experiencing problems with specific population groups and reimbursement questions - with the systems of Germany and the UK. The discussants, including former French Minister Claude Evin and Pascal Garel, Director of HOPE provided practical examples from different countries but agreed that there is no ’’best option’’ system as different countries all displayed elements that worked and elements that didn’t.
The second part of the debate focused on the pros and cons of EU involvement by harmonising certain areas of health. The discussions focussed on the realities and issues at stake that impact on the level of this involvement, given the limitations of the EU health mandate. To this aim it gathered participants from different institutions who provided their points of view on the extent to which they feel that harmonisation of EU health policy is possible: Etienne Maury, assistant of MEP Antonyia Parvanova (ALDE, Bulgaria) in the European Parliament, Bruno Gautrais representing DG SANCO, as well as Sebastien Guigner, author of a Ph.D. thesis on ’’The institutionalisation of a European health space: Between integration and Europeanisation’’, now working at the University of Bordeaux.
In his intervention, EPHA Policy Coordinator for Health Systems Sascha Marschang explained in what ways the EU is able to fulfill its coordinating and facilitating role, citing cross-border health threats and patients rights, pharmaceutical policy and health tools as areas of international reach where the EU’s leadership can add value in creating legal clarity, safety and security to people living in Europe. He also presented the expectations and concerns of individuals and patients, health professionals and civil society vis-a-vis EU actions in a number of health policy areas and illustrated the role of civil society organisations, such as EPHA, in the policy making process and as change agents to shape the economic, social and research/innovation frameworks that underpin it.
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