Psychiatrists welcome settlement on Honeysuckle Health buying group authorisation..

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has welcomed action being taken to ensure a move by Honeysuckle Health and nib buying group to enter the local market will not impact on the quality of mental health treatment Australians receive. 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently authorised a proposal by Honeysuckle Health and nib Health Funds to form a buying group to collectively negotiate and manage contracts with healthcare providers on behalf of private health insurers and other health care payers. 

The RANZCP and other concerned parties said this move would concentrate bargaining power into the hands of private health insurers, reducing market competitiveness and severely limiting choices and the quality of care available for patients. The ACCC’s authorisation was then challenged in the Australian Competition Tribunal (The Tribunal).

The RANZCP’s submission to the Tribunal highlighted that the buying group’s Broad Clinical Partners Program would infringe on the clinical autonomy of medical practitioners and have implications for the 
health and welfare of patients.

RANZCP President, Associate Professor Vinay Lakra warned that the buying group would provide a gateway to managed care allowing private health insurers to compare costs of services to short-term outcomes and determine their value, instead of considering community ratings and individual patient needs.

'We were concerned that the buying group would adversely impact expectations of how medical practitioners are supposed to treat their patients, rules around length of inpatient admissions and stipulations on collection of patient health data'.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) was granted permission by the Tribunal to intervene in the hearing after the ACCC decision was challenged by the National Association of Practising Psychiatrists (NAPP) and Rehabilitation Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand (RMSANZ).

The College provided further support to this process with their submission.
It has been reported that a settlement has been reached with the help of AMA’s intervention and the Tribunal will soon be announcing the outcome of the hearing.

'We thank the NAPP, RMSANZ, and AMA for their contributions in this matter and await the outcome of the Tribunal'.

'The RANZCP will continue advocating for the health and welfare of patients and clinical autonomy of medical practitioners', said Associate Professor Vinay Lakra.

For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call +61 437 315 911, or email media@ranzcp.org

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments and other groups on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit www.ranzcp.org.

In Australia: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au or the Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au.

In Aotearoa New Zealand: If you or someone you know needs help, 1737 is here to help, for free - Mental Health. You can also contact Lifeline NZ on 0800 543 354 or www.lifeline.org.nz or the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865 or www.lifeline.org.nz/suicide-prevention.

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