MSHA, Wellmont issues statement on SWVA Authority report

Published 8:49 am Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Just days after offering a response to comments submitted to the state of Tennessee by the Federal Trade Commission and others, Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System took time out to express “gratitude” to the Southwest Virginia Health Authority in regards to the potential merger between both systems to create Ballad Health.
Virginia is following in the same trajectory as Tennessee, as their 45-day review period of the Health Authority’s report began on Thursday, Dec. 22, after the 160-page document was presented to officials.
“While we only just received the document provided by the authority to the commonwealth, we can say that this document reflects significant due diligence and presents a clear and convincing case for why the authority, as an independent statutorily created body, voted unanimously to recommend the proposed merger for approval,” both health systems said in a joint-statement issued to the Elizabethton Star.
According to the statement, “the members of the authority gave due consideration to opponents of the proposed merger from outside the region, including FTC staff members and a powerful national insurance company and its paid Washington and state-level lobbyists. Importantly, the authority also gave consideration to dozens of employers, many of them self-insured and who will be impacted most by the proposed merger, who represent thousands of their employees and their families and who actually pay for the health care services provided by Mountain States and Wellmont. These local employers were overwhelmingly in favor of the proposed merger. Everyone had an opportunity to be heard, and the arguments were made in public.”
Tennessee began their review of the on Thursday, Sept. 15, after state Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, stating the Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) by both health systems was completed.
““We appreciate the work of Mountain States and Wellmont to provide the necessary information to finalize the merger application,” Dreyzehner said. “Receiving this information is an important step in the COPA application and review process, and now that the application is complete, we will carefully review the proposal to determine whether it ultimately provides a public benefit to Tennesseans.”
According to the state, by statute, the department is charged with determining whether the likely benefits of the proposed merger would outweigh by clear and convincing evidence any disadvantages caused by a potential reduction in competition in the region. Those benefits include improvements in health outcomes, health care costs and access to services in the region. The department has 120 days to carefully review and determine if the application meets this clear and convincing standard that the proposed merger between the two systems will provide an overall public benefit to the people of northeast Tennessee.
The final verdict for Tennessee is expected to be announced around the second week of January.
The merger hasn’t been without a fair share of opposition, either.
MSHA and Wellmont both issued a joint response on their website,, citing their response “details several errors in the FTC staff’s analysis and highlights flaws in many additional comments the state received.
While citing flaws in the comments about the merger, both health systems reiterated that “while we strenuously disagree with FTC staff members’ analysis of the proposed merger, and their arguments, we do genuinely appreciate the work they do. We believe they have it wrong with respect to our region, but we take seriously their commentary.”
Visit for a look at the response in its entirety and for further updates on the merger.

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