FTC op­poses pro­posed merger of Moun­tain States, Well­mont

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Maria Castel­lucci

The Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion has rec­om­mended that Vir­ginia reg­u­la­tors re­ject the pro­posed merger of two large re­gional sys­tems that op­er­ate in the state: Moun­tain States Health Al­liance and Well­mont Health Sys­tem.

FTC of­fi­cial Mark Sei­d­man said the deal will cre­ate an an­ti­com­pet­i­tive health­care cli­mate in the state, lead­ing to higher prices and lower qual­ity of care. Agency staff also sub­mit­ted a re­port out­lin­ing their op­po­si­tion to the merger.

The state, which has the au­thor­ity to ap­prove the merger de­spite a rec­om­men­da­tion from the FTC to op­pose it, re­quested that the agency in­ves­ti­gate the pro­posed merger be­fore mak­ing its de­ci­sion.

Moun­tain States and Well­mont said they will “ex­plic­itly ad­dress the short­com­ings” in a writ­ten re­sponse on the FTC’s opin­ion to the South­west Vir­ginia Health Au­thor­ity by Oct. 10.

Moun­tain States and Well­mont Health are both large sys­tems with lo­ca­tions in mul­ti­ple states. John­son City, Tenn.-based Moun­tain States is a 13-hos­pi­tal sys­tem that serves Ken­tucky, North Carolina, Ten­nessee and Vir­ginia. Kingsport, Tenn.-based Well­mont is a six-hos­pi­tal sys­tem that serves Ten­nessee and Vir­ginia.

The FTC staff re­port found the com­bined sys­tem would con­trol 71% of the ge­o­graphic area they both serve.

In a state­ment, the sys­tems op­posed the FTC’s opin­ion that the merger would re­sult in higher prices. “There have been sev­eral ex­am­ples where ar­range­ments sim­i­lar to what we have pro­posed have re­sulted in lower costs to con­sumers and high qual­ity,” they said.

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