MSHA, Wellmont respond to FTC concerns about merger


TRI-CITIES, TN (WJHL) – The Tri-Cities two health systems have filed an official response to Federal Trade Commission concerns about their plan to merge.

Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System announced last year they needed  to merger into a single company.

Because the new company to be called Ballad Health would constitute a monopoly, the states of Tennessee and Virginia changed the law to create state oversight to protect consumers.

“We believe that following those guidelines established by the states — in Tennessee and Virginia — that we will be successful in demonstrating our value in the community to displace competition for improving the overall health for the communities we serve,” Wellmont Health System CEO Bart Hove said.

As the companies wait for state approval, the Federal Trade Commission announced its formal opposition to the deal on Sept. 30.

Now, Mountain States and Wellmont have responded to the FTC’s opposition in Virginia.

The companies said the FTC didn’t take into account the unique and serious health challenges confronting the area.

“The FTC has not engaged us directly in trying to understand the uniqueness of our approach related to the merger in our region,” Hove said. “The FTC takes a very narrow view of mergers of this sort, mainly focusing on competition.”

Mountain States and Wellmont said Ballad Health would improve local health care with guarantees for keeping costs low.

Mountain States and Wellmont also said the FTC’s opinion is irrelevant because Supreme Court rulings have made it clear federal antitrust laws don’t supersede state policy.

The FTC will meet with the Southwest Virginia Health Authority on Oct. 26.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved. 

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