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PCC wraps up probe of healthcare association

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has capped its first ever full administrative investigation, but the industry association that violated the law has been given a free pass after taking advantage of the so-called transitory period.

Keeping further details under wraps, PCC had been conducting an investigation into the healthcare industry.

According to PCC Commissioner Stella Alabastro-Quimbo, the case involves a professional association of doctors and a partner insurance provider.

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The commission no longer issued a decision on the case since a “voluntary commitment” was made by the parties involved, she said. This also kept PCC from disclosing the names of the parties involved.

PCC’s enabling law allows erring firms to correct anti-competitive practices within two years from the passage of the law. This transitory period allows parties to “renegotiate agreements or restructure their business” in compliance to the Philippine Competition Act on or before Aug. 8.

This, she said, is exactly what the association did.

“This association specializes in eye care. For a long time, they had an exclusive partnership with an insurance provider. When they were made aware of a possible competition concern, they volunteered to end this exclusive partnership and it happened right before Aug. 8,” she said.

There are three main acts prohibited by the law:

  • anti-competitive agreements such as price fixing
  • abuse of dominant position such as exclusive merchandising or exclusive distributorship agreements
  • anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions

The other violation they corrected was indicated in their medical mission guidelines, she said.

Under the previous guidelines, any medical mission needs the consent of the eye specialist within the locality where the medical mission was going to happen.

Alabastro-Quimbo said this is “a kind of market collusion.”

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“They voluntarily struck off this particular guideline in their set of rules,” she said. /atm

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