Public-Private Mix

Wrangle may delay healthcare inquiry
Visser A: Business Day Live. 6 January 2014

On the eve of the landmark inquiry into the private healthcare industry in South Africa, the Netcare group is challenging the Competition Commission's use of professional services firm KPMG as its technical service provider for the investigation. The commission originally suggested the market inquiry into the private healthcare industry after concerns were expressed that certain factors in the sector prevent, distort or restrict competition. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has been particularly vocal in expressing his disquiet about the matter. The market inquiry provision in the Competition Act became effective last year and paved the way for the introduction of an inquiry into private healthcare. The provision will allow the commission to initiate an inquiry if it has reason to believe that any feature of a market distorts or restricts competition. Unlike the 2006 inquiry into banking costs, which required the banks’ voluntary co-operation, the commission now has wide-ranging powers to summon people to testify or to provide documents. It will be able to call for any information it may deem relevant and may initiate a complaint against a firm based on what it gathers during the inquiry. The final terms of reference for the competition authorities’ private healthcare inquiry were published at the end of last year. They included looking at possible cost drivers such as pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical equipment and the inter-relationship between the public and private healthcare systems.

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