CHS, West Tennessee Healthcare Near Agreement Over Contracting Dispute

Brentwood, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems and Jackson, Tenn.-based West Tennessee Healthcare have come to a verbal agreement that would allow CHS-owned Regional Hospital of Jackson (Tenn.) to negotiate in-network contracts with commercial payors if CHS drops its pursuit of passing legislation that would end West Tennessee Healthcare's state antitrust protection, according to a statement (pdf) from West Tennessee Healthcare President and CEO Bobby Arnold.

Currently, state law protects the public-owned West Tennessee Healthcare from antitrust lawsuits when negotiating contracts with commercial payors. For several years, CHS has lobbied state lawmakers to eliminate that protection in order for other hospitals, such as CHS' Regional Hospital of Jackson, to fairly negotiate with those health insurers, according to a Jackson Sun report.

The tentative agreement, which will most likely be a written contract between the two health systems, will not affect existing contracts. New network contracts by West Tennessee Healthcare's Jackson-Madison County General Hospital would not contain provisions prohibiting insurers from contracting with Regional Hospital of Jackson, according to the statement.

Additionally, West Tennessee Healthcare's antitrust immunity will remain in place.

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