Towards a private hospital monopoly
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) — the Federal Government's privatisation body — has withdrawn its earlier opposition to Mayne Nickless' planned takeover of Australian Hospital Care (AHC). Mayne Nickless, however, has agreed to sell four of AHC's hospitals, one on the Gold Coast and three in Melbourne. If the takeover goes ahead, Mayne Nickless will end up with approximately 30 per cent of private hospital beds in metropolitan Melbourne and 60 per cent on the Gold Coast. The ACCC is only opposed to a 100 percent monopoly, for fear that the health insurance companies might face higher monopoly prices when negotiating agreements with private hospitals. Mayne Nickless, perhaps better known for its transport and security operations, is now the largest for-profit private operator of hospitals in Australia. Its Health Care of Australia (HCoA) company has more than 4,800 beds and 47 hospitals throughout Australia, as well as interests in hospitals in Indonesia and Fiji. Much of its expansion has come through privatisation by state governments and takeovers. Mayne Nickless's MNDS — its pathology and diagnostic imaging section — is Australia's second largest provider of these services. It also is building up a chain of medical centres. The takeover of AHC by Mayne Nickless will be a further step in the ongoing concentration and monopolisation of medical services by a handful of private corporations.