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Netherlands: Hospitals request three-year suspension of Dutch Competition Act

The Dutch Association of Hospitals (NVZ) has published a press release announcing that it has appealed for a three-year temporary suspension of the Dutch Competition Act in the healthcare sector, as various healthcare institutions have entered into arrangements to save on costs that may be in violation of the Act. For example, the institutions have agreed to reallocate healthcare between providers to prevent the need for receiving forms of healthcare that are unnecessarily expensive and to provide healthcare closer to people's homes (in some cases, replacing some forms of healthcare with others, such as e-Health). The Dutch Authority of Consumers and Markets (ACM) has indicated that it would not impose any fines for such arrangements as long as the following criteria are met:

  • Arrangements being based on a plan regarding the available healthcare capacity in a particular region.
  • The plan being drawn up in an objective manner.
  • The arrangement being made public.
  • Patient organisations being fully involved in the creation of the plan.

The criteria have been designed to ensure that the relocation of healthcare between providers would help improve healthcare quality and maintain its affordability and accessibility. According to NVZ, however, the leeway provided by the ACM is rather unclear. Furthermore, it has stated that it will cost hospitals too much time and energy to comply with all the criteria.

In ACM's view it is up to the legislature to suspend the Dutch Competition Act in the healthcare sector.

A prior version of this post was originally published by the same author in Practical Law – Life Sciences, September 2019 Issue (Thomson Reuters).