Tennessee pressing MSHA, Wellmont for specific merger information


By Jeff Keeling

Tennessee’s Department of Health (TDH) is pressing Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System to provide more specific information concerning six “observations” it made Jan. 15 about the systems’ proposed merger.

In a letter dated Feb. 29, TDH’s Allison Thigpen wrote MSHA and Wellmont CEOs Alan Levine and Bart Hove requesting an addendum in response to a Jan. 15 letter she had written with six observations and department positions. That letter, as reported in the February Business Journal, had suggested the systems address the observations and positions in their application for a Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA).

The January letter notes the importance of specifics in the six areas, which include: reinvestment of cost savings; duplication of services; identification of population health disparities; provision of equitable health services; detailed prevention services; and geographic service area.

The Feb. 29 letter, “requests that the applicants provide an addendum to the application … that specifically addresses the observations and positions raised (in the earlier letter).” It adds that if the application addresses those, the systems need to specify where that is in the current application and note how it responds to the TDH observations and positions (find the January letter at jcnewsandneighbor.com/TDHletter).

Among the specific requests in the January letter is that the systems provide, “a good faith estimate of the number of full-time equivalent positions estimated to be eliminated each year, or if none, other plans to achieve stated efficiencies.” Another request relates to the four areas in which the systems say they would reinvest savings from the merger. The January letter requests specific expected annual expenditures in each reinvestment category.

The January letter also notes a merged system would be responsible for population health beyond the initial 10-year period covered in a January “pre-submission report.” “The department is interested in additional longitudinal plans and New Health System expectations for regional population health improvement after the initially-proposed ten year period.”

As of Tuesday morning, the systems had not responded to the Feb. 29 addendum request, TDH spokesman Bill Christian said.


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