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MSHA, Wellmont address merger application delays, what's next

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Representatives from Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System addressed the delay in their merger applications.

The most outspoken opposition is from the Federal Trade Commission, citing a loss of competition and a potential for increased prices.

Back in January, the two health systems announced a delay in the merger, wanting more time to provide additional information to the states' health departments.

MSHA and Wellmont leaders are working to finish up their merger applications.

"Things are moving forward on the right track," Todd Norris with Wellmont said. "It's just a matter of continuing engagement with the states."

The two want to explain how together they will address key issues in our region.

"Lowering rates of obesity, lowering smoking rates, helping improve access to substance abuse services," Anthony Keck with MSHA listed a few of those issues.

The two claim there are problems they cannot tackle separately because right now, each needs to spend money competiting with the other.

"We can free up those dollars and put them into things that are really improving the health of the community," Keck said.

And they want to make sure this time both states have all the information they need.

"The timing, deadline associated with it obviously, we want to get there," Norris said. "But it is less important than getting it right."

Originially, the two health systems hoped to have a decision by now. But they tell News 5 they're not discouraged by the delay.

"We're used to dealing with uncertainty and we're continuing to move forward, "Keck said. "We're continuing as competitors."

"We're confident that that's the right decision," Norris said. "We're absolutely committed to it; and we believe it's going to happen in the right timing."

If MSHA and Wellmont stay on schedule and submit everything in a couple of weeks, a decision by both states could come as early as June.

In Tennessee, there will be one more chance for the public to speak up. That date will be set once the application is deemed complete.

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