Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The Competition Commission’s Health Market Inquiry (HMI) has announced yet another delay in the publication of its provisional report, pushing out the deadline by a month until May 31.

The inquiry was established to investigate the dynamics in the private healthcare market and to determine whether there are barriers to competition and patient access.

The commission was originally due to publish its interim HMI report in August 2016 and a final report and recommendations by mid-December, but extended these deadlines by a year due to delays in getting data from medical schemes and private hospitals.

In November 2017, it extended the deadlines into 2018, saying at the time that the large hospital groups and medical scheme administrator Discovery Health had requested access to the underlying data that underpinned its preliminary analysis reports.

The commission said on Thursday that it had delayed publication once again to allow its experts sufficient time to deal with the issues raised by stakeholders in response to a series of nine analytical reports it published in December.

To facilitate comment on the expenditure analyses reports, the commission allowed stakeholders’ external experts and advisors access to the underlying confidential information and data it had used to compile these reports. The last stakeholder response was only submitted to the HMI on April 13.

"Given these time constraints, the HMI decided to postpone the publication of the provisional report for one month, to May 31 2018, to afford time to the HMI’s experts to interrogate and assess the issues raised in the stakeholder responses, and to advise of any issues of materiality that may require consideration," the inquiry’s director Clint Oellermann said in a statement.

"The HMI has taken the steps set out above to reassure stakeholders of the integrity of the process and to prevent any further delay that may result from legal disputes."