Australasian Dental Practice

Wednesday, 19 June, 2024

01 Nov 2008 | Australasian Dental Practice

news > Spectrum > Page 42

Update: ACCC vs Drs Ranu, Crowe & Stankevicius

By Garry Pammer

In the September/October 2007 issue of Australasian Dental Practice, we outlined the ruling in the ACCC's Federal Court case against the above named Tasmanian associateship practice of Orthodontists.

The crux of the case was that the practice had engaged in anti-competitive behaviour which had breached section 45 of the Trade Practices Act (the Act). The key concerns of the ACCC were:

i.Fixing the price of orthodontic services;
ii.Restricting supply of patients to those Orthodontists with more patients than the others;
iii.Stopping other Orthodontists from setting up practices in competition to the associates; and
iv.Restricted the associates working with other practices or from separate premises.

Understandably, this case has been closely watched by many in the industry, principally as its common for an associateship to offer scheduled services at the same fee rate for each of the associates. Notwithstanding points ii. through iv. above (which we discussed in our last update), the scheduled fee matter has been of most concern. As a consequence of the concerns expressed, we have no doubt that the ACCC's recent media announcement will be well received.

To quote directly from Media Release 294/08: "The ACCC considers that allowing dentists and specialists to charge a common fee in circumstances where they operate as a team, share patient records and facilities, and have a common trading name is likely to result in a public benefit".

Further: "These types of practices are more likely to have common administrative and operational costs which can result in efficiency savings. Patients can also benefit from consistent and predictable pricing among dentists operating within a shared practice which can assist with the quality and continuity of care".

The ACCC are inviting further submissions from regional practices in this regard but importantly it seems that they have finally "got it right". Uniform pricing on scheduled services in practices not only makes for efficient operation in practice but also benefits your patients.

So to reiterate, what we have outlined previously, regardless of the above good news, all associateship practices should be reviewing their agreements and business practices for what may be construed to be anti-competitive clauses or behaviour.

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