The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has granted interim authorisation to enable a network of Catholic health facilities to continue to collectively bargain with health funds, the Repatriation Commission and a range of suppliers.
Interim authorisation also enables the network to continue to share particular information for the purposes of benchmarking but does not extend to collective boycotts.
The Catholic healthcare network has had an authorisation in place since 2004.Its current authorised arrangements are due to expire on 20 February 2014.
“Interim authorisation allows these health facilities to maintain existing arrangements and not incur additional costs or delays to current negotiations, while the ACCC considers the request for re-authorisation,” ACCC Commissioner Dr Jill Walker said.
Interim authorisation commences immediately and will remain in place until the date that the ACCC's final determination comes into effect or is revoked.
Granting or denying interim authorisation in no way binds the ACCC in its consideration of the substantive application for re-authorisation.
Authorisation provides immunity from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment. Interim authorisation allows the parties to engage in the conduct prior to the ACCC considering the substantive merits of the application.
The ACCC sought submissions from interested parties on St Vincent’s request for interim authorisation and its substantive application for authorisation. A draft decision on the substantive application is likely to be issued in March/April 2014.
Further information is available at http://registers.accc.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/1128907/fromItemId/278039
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