CADE fined Ceará association, clinics and hospitals R$ 27.5 million for anti-competitive practices

On 23rd of September, the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) condemned the Association of Hospitals of the State of Ceará (Ahece), for inducing uniform conduct, and nine clinics and hospitals, for the practice of cartel in the market of medical and hospital services in Fortaleza (CE). Due to the anti-competitive conduct, the convicts will have to pay a total of R $ 27.5 million in fines.

The advisor reporting the case, Luis Henrique Bertolino Braido, highlighted that the evidence gathered during the investigation showed that the represented formed a single negotiation block to impose prices and readjustments, using the discrediting of the health plan as a means of coercion to impose their conditions.

The anti-competitive practices were evidenced by e-mails containing tables of values of hospital services or uniform values of readjustments sent by Ahece, on behalf of the associates, to the health plan operators. There are indications that the association influenced and promoted consistent conduct between competitors, between 2006 and 2008, and robust evidence that it intensified and was relatively successful between 2009 and 2012

With regard to clinics and hospitals, the Court concluded that it was proven that there were a price and service agreement between the competitors (cartel), during the years 2009 and 2012. "It is very clear that the represented have joined together to define adjustments in prices and the prices of goods and services to be contracted with Unimed. The represented also sought to impose the acceptance of these conditions, through notes in newspapers, in which they threatened the suspension of the services", affirmed the rapporteur.