Hospital merger decision just 99 days away in Tennessee

BRISTOL, TN (WJHL) – If the Federal Trade Commission makes a recommendation about the proposed Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance merger in Tennessee, Department of Health Commissioner Dr. John Dreyzehner says he will give the recommendation careful consideration.

“The Federal Trade Commission has a lot of experience in these matters and I think their opinion is very important and we appreciate their input,” Dr. Dreyzehner said. “We’ll take a close look at it, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle in terms of what is going to meet the needs for this region and the State of Tennessee.”

Only a handful of people spoke, most in favor of the merger, at a Certificate of Public Advantage public hearing in Bristol Thursday night. The public input followed a similar meeting earlier in the week in Virginia where the FTC asked the Southwest Virginia Health Authority to deny the merger application there, citing concerns about competition, cost and quality of care.

Although the FTC has previously voiced concerns in Tennessee, Dr. Dreyzehner says the Department of Health hasn’t received any formal recommendation to deny the merger yet.

TDOH now has 99 days to complete its review of the proposed merger, which would create a new organization called Ballad Health. Dr. Dreyzehner expects it will take his agency “most of that time” to come up with a decision.

There will be a final public hearing in Johnson City on November 21 at 5:30 pm at the Millennium Centre. Those who don’t want to share their thoughts in person can email the state at You can remain anonymous.

“We’re trying very hard to get it right and if you have an opinion and we haven’t heard from you, I encourage to you to reach out to us online,” Dr. Dreyzehner said.

Copyright WJHL 2016. All rights reserved.

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