Tennessee Deems COPA Application Complete

Monday, May 22, 2017 | 10:39am

Additional information submitted by hospital systems, process moves forward

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, FACOEM, in consultation with Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today announced the Certificate of Public Advantage application from Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System has been deemed complete and the COPA process will move forward.

"As we move into this next phase of the COPA process, TDH will work with the Attorney General’s Office to determine whether granting a COPA would provide an undisputable public benefit to the people of Northeast Tennessee,” Dreyzehner said.

Based on the state law that outlines the COPA process, the department has 120 days to determine whether granting a COPA would meet the legal requirement for clear and convincing evidence that a merger between the two systems will provide a public benefit to the people impacted in the region. Part of that process will be to create a meaningful and reasonable regulatory structure under which a COPA would operate.

This is not the first time the application has been deemed complete. Back in January, the systems requested to make additional submissions to the application and requested that the department withdraw its decision in September 2016 that first deemed the application complete.

“Because this process is unprecedented, it was appropriate to accept and consider additional information at the applicants’ request,” Dreyzehner said. “We have received this additional information and look forward to evaluating it in the next phase of the process.”

As charged by the Tennessee General Assembly through statute, TDH will determine whether the likely benefits of a merger would outweigh by clear and convincing evidence any disadvantages caused by a potential reduction in competition in the region. Those benefits include improvements in geographic service area population health, regional health outcomes, health care costs, health care quality and health care access.

TDH is currently working on what a detailed draft index would look like to require a preventive approach to care and ensure measured improvements in population health, healthier outcomes and better or consistent access to care. Recommendations developed last spring by the COPA Index Advisory Group after holding a series of regional listening sessions will be used to develop the index.

A public hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, July 18 at 5:30 p.m. EDT in the Northeast State Community College Auditorium located at 2425 Highway 75 in Blountville.

As outlined in state statute, the deadline for a decision on the COPA application is September 19, 2017.

For more information on the COPA, please visit http://tn.gov/health/article/certificate-of-public-advantage.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health