Cooperative agreement applications filed by Mountain States, Wellmont
Published 9:53 am Thursday, February 18, 2016
Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance filed applications for a Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) in Tennessee and a cooperative agreement in Virginia on Tuesday that would enable the two organizations to unite, creating a new health system uniquely designed to improve health and manage health care cost growth in the region.
Both applications include a copy of the definitive agreement between the two health systems, which was unanimously approved by the boards of both organizations and signed on Monday by Roger Leonard, chair of the Wellmont board of directors; Barbara Allen, chair of the Mountain States board of directors; Bart Hove, president and CEO of Wellmont; and Alan Levine, president and CEO of Mountain States. The definitive agreement is a binding legal document that outlines how the two health systems would unite their operations upon approval by the states.
In filing these applications with the Tennessee Department of Health and the Southwest Virginia Health Authority, the proposed merger enters a formal review phase by regulators in Tennessee and Virginia. This process is expected to extend into the late summer of 2016 but may take longer depending on the review processes in both states. Mountain States and Wellmont leaders anticipate an ongoing dialogue with both states throughout the process.
“As we embark on this next phase, we welcome the opportunity to work with officials in Tennessee and Virginia as they review our applications,” said Allen. “We have invested a tremendous amount of work into gathering community and internal feedback, reviewing best practices, and carefully crafting our applications according to the criteria in the state statutes.”
“The filing of these applications and the unanimous approval of the definitive agreement demonstrate our excitement for the proposed merger and the good it will provide for our region,” said Leonard. “When we announced our plans in April 2015, we believed we could be better together. Now, nearly a year later, we are enthusiastic to see our proposed plans taking shape into an innovative organization that will positively impact the health of our region for generations.”
Following statutes that exist in both states to allow state-supervised mergers of this kind to proceed if the public benefits outweigh any disadvantages, each application addresses subjects such as the organizational structure of the proposed system and commitments to improve the region’s health, expand access to care and stem the pace of health care cost growth by reducing negotiated rates and placing caps on rates moving forward.
A required pre-submission report released in January summarized much of the content in the state applications. This report, posted on www.BecomingBetterTogether.org, invited public feedback and continued an ongoing conversation with local stakeholders and community members about the merits of the health systems’ proposal. The COPA and cooperative agreement applications outline details of community engagement efforts and feedback received from groups and individuals, including nearly 60 supportive letters from employers, community organizations and other leaders in the area.
The COPA and cooperative agreement applications, including the definitive agreement, are now posted on the Better Together website, www.BecomingBetterTogether.og for public review. People who want to learn more about the proposed merger and have an opportunity to ask questions are encouraged to visit the site frequently for updates.