Virginia health merger deadline pushed to October 30

Southwest Virginia Health Authority members meet with representatives from Mountain States and Wellmont.

ABINGDON, Va. - The Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance merger approval deadline has been extended in Virginia. The Virginia Health Commissioner has pushed the sign off date from September 30 to October 30.

Representatives from the Southwest Virginia Health Authority met with Mountain States and Wellmont in Abingdon Wednesday. The goal was to discuss revisions to Virginia's terms of approval for the health care merger. After looking at Tennessee's 116 page agreement, however, officials decided they needed more time.

"We want to make sure we have an informed decision, because that's how our committee has operated from the start," Health Authority Chairman and Virginia Delegate Terry Kilgore said.

One of the concerns is making sure the approval requirements can be enforced.

"We want to see how it's going to affect Virginia, and what the Virginia's Attorney General's role and the Virginia Department of Health's role are moving forward," Kilgore said.

The health systems have also recommended changes to the Virginia terms based on Tennessee's revisions.

Virginia's commissioner of health decided to extend the deadline to have more time to review everything and make further recommendations.

"We're still waiting on some of them from the Virginia commissioner, and we're expecting those any day now," Kilgore said.

The committee also voted to postpone reviewing Virginia's terms until they had more time to look at Tennessee's provisions. Time is running short.

"I think there's going to be ample time," Kilgore said. "We can't stretch it out much in order to meet those deadlines. I know that those deadlines are important, because, you know, they'd have to go back through another process in Tennessee, and I'm sure the parties do not want to do that. So we're going to try to meet the deadlines, so we can move forward."

"I think we're well contained on the schedule," Wellmont Senior Vice President Todd Norris said. "I think we're going to be able to achieve the closing parameters that were set forth in Tennessee. We do have some work to do in Virginia, but we know that the authority and the department of health are committed to working with us."

The committee will reconvene in Abingdon on October 12th at 3 p.m. The Federal Trade Commission will also have 30 days to review the merger after the October 30th deadline.