Wellmont, MSHA COPA extension granted, TN approval for merger on hold

Published 9:38 am Monday, January 16, 2017


Wind the clock back.

In joint-statement released today by Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance, both systems announced on Friday, Jan. 13, that the request for additional time to supplement their application for a Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) was granted by the Tennessee Department of Health.

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According to the state, the extension was requested by the health systems to provide additional information to their application for a Tennessee Certificate of Public Advantage. Approval of the COPY is required for the proposed merger of both systems to create Ballad Health.

“Our objective is to ensure the record in both states reflects our vision for improved health of our region and that the record strongly supports a positive outcome,” said Alan Levine, president and CEO of Mountain States. “This is so important, and we are committed to leaving no doubt about our intent. This is not just about a merger, this is about a region coming together to make strides in solving our health care challenges.”

The Virginia Department of Health is currently reviewing the proposal and is expected to make a decision on the merger by February.

“We have recognized from the beginning that this would be both complex and unprecedented,” said Bart Hove, president and CEO of Wellmont. “We are working with thoughtful leaders throughout our health systems, in our community and in both states in this important and deliberate process. This process with our community and both states has made our vision for this merger better.”

TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner issued a statement Friday afternoon in regards to the newest development. The statement read, “Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance have asked the state for a Certificate of Public Advantage to allow a merger, which would result in less competition for health care services in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia,” the statement read. “Due to the size of the region, the size of the population impacted and the involvement of two states, this is an unprecedented proposal, not only in Tennessee but across the country. The Tennessee Department of Health takes its role in this process very seriously on behalf of Tennesseans. The applicants have requested to make additional submissions to the application and have requested that the department withdraw its decision in September deeming the application complete. Based on the unique nature of this application, it is appropriate to accept and consider additional information and grant the applicants’ request. Therefore, the application is currently deemed not complete, and the 120-day deadline to act on the application has not yet started.”

Once the application is deemed complete by the state, the 120-day deadline for approval will be put back into effect for final approval of the merger in Tennessee.