Nashville, TN (WJHL) — Seven months after it was filed, Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System’s merger application has been ruled complete in Tennessee.
The announcement came Thursday afternoon from Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner who said they made the decision to declare the application complete in consultation with Tennessee Attorney General Herb Slatery.
The announcement starts the clock on a 120-day review period during which time the Tennessee Department of Health will “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 department said.
That means the earliest the merger could win state approval would be in January. A similar review is underway in Virginia.
Read the merger application HERE.
Yesterday, the companies announced they’ll call the new company Ballad Health if the merger is approved.
Last Friday, the state says the companies filed the “last significant piece of information necessary to deem the application complete.” The so-called “plan of separation” outlines how the hospitals would unravel if they didn’t meet the requirements of the Certificate of Public Advantage, Tennessee’s state-level mechanism for overseeing the health care merger and the hospital monopoly it would create.
“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,” the Department of Health said in a news release. “Those benefits include improvements in health outcomes, health care costs and access to services in the region.”
The Department of Health could ask for more information from the companies during the review period.
Public hearings are scheduled on the COPA application in Nashville, Bristol and Johnson City.
Public comments on the proposed merger can be submitted through Nov. 15 on the state’s website.
Public comment in Virginia continues through the end of September.
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