Mountain States and Wellmont have taken the next important steps in our path to bring our two organizations together. Today, we filed applications for a Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) in Tennessee and a cooperative agreement in Virginia. The boards of directors of both systems have also unanimously approved and signed a definitive agreement.
These official filings launch the regulatory review and approval stage in Tennessee and Virginia, which is expected to extend into the late summer of 2016 but may take longer depending on the review processes in both states.
These applications are intended to meet each state’s requirement to thoroughly address important topics, including an overview of each system as it operates today, the proposed system’s service area, proposed organizational structure, financial data, commitments to improve the health of the region as well as expand access and choice and more. Much of this detail has already been communicated to the public in various other ways, including the pre-submission report, which we introduced in early January.
The definitive agreement is a binding legal document that outlines how the two health systems would unite our operations upon approval by the states. It is an important step but is not the final step in the process to come together.
The path we are pursuing demonstrates our commitment to building a new and unique approach to health care in the region that includes:
- Continued local governance
- Integrated health care delivery for our residents in a high-quality and cost-effective system
- Enforceable commitments to limit pricing growth
- Keeping hundreds of millions of dollars in the region that will be invested in efforts to improve the health of people in the region while preserving local jobs
- Active supervision by the State of Tennessee and the Commonwealth of Virginia
With our applications, we submitted nearly 60 letters from employers, community organizations, and other leaders from across the region, who fully support the path we are pursuing. We’ve also heard from hundreds of community members since last April through our community health works groups, Better Together website, and more, who have told us what matters to them as we create a health care system uniquely designed for our region.
As there have been throughout this process, there will continue to be many opportunities for the public to provide input. For example, the state of Tennessee will hold a series of public meetings to discuss the proposed merger during the coming months; Virginia also has a public meeting requirement.
Over the coming months, the Joint Board Task Force will continue to oversee work on plans for integrating the two organizations’ operations, cultures and shared vision while health system officials continue their dialogue with state officials. Under terms outlined in the definitive agreement, we have expanded the Joint Board Task Force to include two new community members and the president of East Tennessee State University. Joining the task force are Dr. Brian Noland of ETSU, David Golden of Eastman Chemical Company and Scott Niswonger of Landair Transport, Inc., and the Niswonger Foundation.
Thank you for your continued support and excitement about our innovative vision. We are thrilled to continue moving forward.