Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance have received approval from the Virginia commissioner of health to extend the review period for their cooperative agreement application. The new time frame set forth with Virginia will more closely align with the review process in Tennessee for the systems’ Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) application, and sets a decision no later than June 15, provided that certain milestones can be reached prior to that date.
The new deadline is contingent upon the applicants providing all information the Virginia commissioner considers necessary for her review of the cooperative agreement application, and is also contingent upon the deeming complete again of the COPA application in Tennessee by March 1. If the Tennessee COPA application is not deemed complete by March 1, the health systems will confer with the Virginia commissioner on extending the commonwealth’s examination further to ensure the review period in Virginia aligns with that in Tennessee.
The Southwest Virginia Health Authority unanimously voted on Nov. 7 to recommend approval of the cooperative agreement, and the Virginia commissioner of health, in consultation with the Virginia attorney general, is now reviewing the application. Virginia law includes a provision by which the applicants can ask the commissioner to delay her decision to allow for additional review of the record.
The new timeframe set forth with Virginia will also provide additional time for the commissioner to review the substantial record, which will include the responses of Mountain States and Wellmont to requests for additional information issued by the Virginia commissioner of health on Dec. 22 and Jan. 9. The applicants are working to submit all responses as quickly as possible.
“Our objective is to ensure our applications in both states fully reflect our vision for the improved health of our region and that the associated records strongly support a positive outcome,” said Alan Levine, president and CEO of Mountain States. “We are pleased with the progress we’ve made to date in bringing our two organizations together, and we appreciate the Virginia commissioner’s willingness to allow us extra time to be sure both states have the benefit of the full record as they review our applications.”
The boards of both organizations believe the proposed merger is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle the critical health issues our region is facing, sustain our rural hospitals, expand access, protect local jobs, ensure important decisions are made by people who live and work in our region and reinvest millions of dollars in our local communities.
“We are working with thoughtful leaders throughout our health systems, in our community and in both states on this important and deliberate process,” said Bart Hove, president and CEO of Wellmont. “We remain grateful for the overwhelming support we have received from stakeholders throughout our region who recognize the importance of this decision on the health and well-being of those we will serve now and for generations to come.”