The Dutch Healthcare Authority (NZa) has warned a GP practice because it ‘possibly’ incorrectly declared registration fees. Various sources indicate that this is a former practice of Centric Health.
A recently published and anonymised letter from the NZa dated 6 April to a GP practice states that the NZa has started an investigation after a report. It says that the practice was closed on March 17 and 20 and that patients who called were told via a tape that they could call the GP after 5 p.m. The practice was also unavailable for three mornings between 20 and 23 March, not even for emergencies.
Possibly in violation
That is against the declaration rules, writes the NZa. ‘If you cannot guarantee that general medical care is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, declarations of the registration fee are unlawful.’ A spokesperson for the NZa emphasizes that a violation has not yet been formally established. For this, the NZa must view ‘the relevant declaration data’ and that was not possible in such a short period of time, because ‘registration rates are declared per quarter’, according to a spokesperson.
Nevertheless, the regulator has warned the general practice ‘in the interest of the patients’ that it may be in violation. According to the spokesperson, this is ‘a faster intervention’ than ‘an instruction or order subject to periodic penalty payments (remedial sanctions) or an administrative fine’ (max. 500,000 euros or 10 percent of the turnover of the company in the Netherlands).
The NZa can still impose this if the check of the claim data shows that the registration fees have indeed been charged incorrectly or if the NZa receives ‘more comparable signals’ about this practice within two years.
Such a warning is rare in general practice. “We are not aware of any comparable case, at least in the last three years, in which the NZa has taken enforcement action with a warning, instruction or fine,” said the spokesperson.
The publication of the NZa is anonymous because no violation has been formally established yet. Various sources point to the general practice Acacialaan in Pijnacker, which was still owned by Centric Health in March – and has been taken back since May 8 by the original owner, general practitioner Ed Timmermans. For example, Medisch Contact has seen a letter from the NZa to Centric Health stating that the company received a warning on 6 April due to the same possible violation as mentioned above. In addition, on April 4, 2023, the Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (IGJ) reprimanded Centric Health for similar problems to those reported to the NZa. In addition, health insurer DSW previously confirmed that it has an outstanding reclaim of the payment of the registration fees for the first quarter from Centric Health because it had not provided the agreed care. DSW says that this is based, among other things, on the investigation of the IGJ. Medisch Contact has contacted Centric Health Netherlands in various ways for a response.