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FTC voices concern over Wellmont, MSHA merger again

The Federal Trade Commission spent two and a half hours voicing additional concerns to the Southwest Virginia Health Authority regarding the proposed merger between Kingsport, Tenn.-based Wellmont Health System and Johnson City, Tenn.-based Mountain States Health Alliance Oct. 26, according to the Bristol Herald Courier.

The authority will meet Oct. 27 to begin deliberations. They have until Nov. 10 to make a recommendation to the state commissioner of health as to whether or not the merger should proceed.

During the meeting, FTC officials reiterated their argument that the merger will create a hospital monopoly, increase costs and diminish the quality of care for patients. Officials also questioned the viability and accountability of $450 million in commitments the systems pledged to improve the community's health in exchange for lessened competition, according to the article.

The FTC previously voiced its concerns at a public hearing Sept. 30.

Officials from both health systems responded to the FTC's concerns, claiming the agency never engaged with the health systems directly to understand the their approach to the merger and argued the merged entity, Ballad Health, would improve the quality of care for patients while keeping costs low.

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