We have an update to share and wanted you to be among the first to know. Wellmont and Mountain States have filed a letter of intent (LOI) with the Tennessee Department of Health, indicating we will submit an application for a Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) this fall. In Virginia, we have submitted a similar letter of intent with the Southwest Virginia Health Authority, signaling our intent to request approval by the commonwealth of the anticipated cooperative agreement between the two systems.
These important filings show we are moving forward with the state regulatory approval processes, but we still have many more steps to complete in the coming months.
A COPA in Tennessee and the cooperative agreement approval process in Virginia will allow Wellmont and Mountain States to merge, with the states actively supervising the proposed new health system to ensure it complies with the provisions of the COPA intended to contain costs and sustain high quality, affordable care.
We appreciate the great work of the officials in both states as they create the guideposts that will oversee our proposed merger. Tennessee’s Department of Health recently released interim regulations governing COPAs in Tennessee, and Virginia’s Department of Health is finalizing rules to oversee similar cooperative agreements in that state.
Next, the two organizations will finalize a definitive agreement, which is another formal step in the process to solidify the proposed partnership. The date for expected completion of the merger has not been set but will not occur before state approval has been granted.
We’re encouraged by our great progress. In fact, the more we work together, the more excited we become about building a new approach to health care in our region. We promise to keep everyone informed as we reach coming milestones.
Community Support Continues
We want to thank everyone for the support we’ve received in recent months. Earlier this month, a group of 25 physicians, community members and business leaders attended a meeting hosted by the Virginia Department of Health to express their opinions on the proposed regulations as well as their support for the proposed merger.
Here is what a few attendees had to say:
- “Leonard Companies has been doing business in Southwest Virginia for 61 years. As business people and citizens of the area that will be affected we support the merger of these two health care systems. We believe that this consolidation will assist the five-state region by enhancing quality physician recruitment, provide a broader array of medical specialists available to the rural communities of our area, and assist in much needed economic development for the region.” – Dave Leonard, II, vice president, Leonard Land and Livestock
- “A properly regulated environment will allow the entities to bring high quality healthcare to the people in our region at an affordable cost. This is a unique situation that will help ensure the future of healthcare in Southwest Virginia.” – Martin Kent, president and chief operating officer, The United Company
- “My Chamber of Commerce represents hundreds of businesses. One important factor in having a healthy and thriving economy is having a healthy community. Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System are working on a proposed merger. Providing affordable, high-quality healthcare with broad access is the vision. Healthcare is complicated and the regulationsâ€¦will give these two organizations the ability to become a single entity with one goal: making the people in our region healthy.” – Beth Rhinehart, president and CEO, Bristol, Tennessee and Virginia Chamber of Commerce
- “I see every day how healthcare is changing. I support the proposed mergerâ€¦because in today’s complicated and rapidly changing healthcare landscape it’s important to look for ways to improve care and keep costs down.”– Skip Skinner, executive director, LENOWISCO
- “As a physician, I have seen many changes in healthcare both locally and across the country, many of them driven by regulatory reform. The … legislation passed in Virginia last year was an important step towards ensuring healthcare remains available to people in our area and that costs remain competitive. The proposed merger between Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance is just one example of what can be achieved under the enabling legislation and a sound regulatory environment.” – Dr. Maurice Nida, Norton, Virginia physician with Wellmont Medical Associates
These are just a few of the voices of the many local people and organizations that have expressed support for what Mountain States and Wellmont are working to accomplish through the proposed merger.
These expressions of support are the latest in a series of positive statements from our community, which has included East Tennessee State University, the local Chambers of Commerce, Eastman Chemical Company and the Tennessee Medical Association. Additionally, you can view the latest media clips, including supportive op-eds and letters to the editor, here.
Visit BecomingBetterTogether.org for the latest news and updates.