Tennessee Deems COPA Application Complete

We are pleased to share that our Certificate of Public Advantage application in Tennessee has been deemed complete. We appreciate the hard work Commissioner Dreyzehner and his staff have done over the past several months to evaluate the supplemental information that provides a more detailed picture of how our proposed merger will specifically benefit the health of the populations we serve. We are committed to continuing to work with officials in both states as they consider the merits of our proposal, and we look forward to the next steps in the process.

Below, please see the news release the Tennessee Department of Health has issued.

TENNESSEE DEEMS COPA APPLICATION COMPLETE

With additional information submitted by hospital systems, process moves forward

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, FACOEM, in consultation with Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery, III today announced that the Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) application from Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System has been deemed complete, and the COPA process will move forward.

“As we move into this next phase of the COPA process, TDH will work with the Attorney General’s Office to determine whether granting a COPA would provide an undisputable public benefit to the people of Northeast Tennessee,” Dreyzehner said.

Based on the state law that outlines the COPA process, the department has 120 days to determine whether granting a COPA would meet the legal requirement for clear and convincing evidence that a merger between the two systems will provide a public benefit to the people impacted in the region.  Part of that process will be to create a meaningful and reasonable regulatory structure under which a COPA would operate.

This is not the first time the application has been deemed complete.  Back in January, the systems requested to make additional submissions to the application and requested that the department withdraw its decision in September 2016 that first deemed the application complete.

“Because this process is unprecedented, it was appropriate to accept and consider additional information at the applicants’ request,” Dreyzehner said.  “We have received this additional information and look forward to evaluating it in the next phase of the process.”

As charged by the Tennessee General Assembly through statute, TDH will determine whether the likely benefits of a 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 geographic service area population health, regional health outcomes, health care costs, health care quality and health care access.

TDH is currently working on what a detailed draft index would look like to ensure measured improvements in population health, require a preventive approach to care, healthier outcomes, and better or consistent access to care. Recommendations developed last spring by the COPA Index Advisory Group after holding a series of regional listening sessions have been used to develop the index.

A public hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, July 18 at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) in the Northeast State Community College Auditorium located at 2425 Highway 75 in Blountville.

As outlined in state statute, the deadline for a decision on the COPA application is September 19.

For more information on COPA, please visit http://tn.gov/health/article/certificate-of-public-advantage.

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