Public forum highlights criticism, questions about Ballad Health COPA agreement


WASHINGTON D.C. (WJHL )- The Federal Trade Commission hosted a workshop featuring a discussion about Ballad Health’s COPA, or Certificate of Public Advantage, Tuesday afternoon.

A group of panelists had shared early observations about Ballad Health and the COPA agreement, which went into effect January 2018.

SEE ALSO: Ballad Health, a merger of the Tri-Cities’ hospital systems, publicly launches

Ballad Health’s COPA was the center of discussion for more than an hour for panelists like President and CEO of Holston Medical Group, Scott Fowler, and the owner of Sunesis Medical Consulting, Daniel J. Pohlgeers.

Another panelist, Richard G. Cowart, a shareholder at Baker Donelson, spoke about the merging process and showed the audience a slide with the following facts: 

  • Ballad Health has 15,000+ team members making the company the 4th largest employer in Tennessee 
  • Ballad Health is the number one employer in the Tri-Cities region
  • There are approximately 1 million residents in the service area
  • Ballad Health has the region’s only children’s hospital 

Cowart also pointed out investments Ballad Health is making in the Tri-Cities region saying, “…we’ve got an $85 million dollar investment toward behavioral health, which includes, by the way, getting telemedicine into the schools, we’ve got telemedicine and behavioral health into the schools already”

PREVIOUS STORY: Public workshop to include review of Ballad Health’s COPA

Cowart, who was formerly board counsel to Wellmont Health System before the merger, discussed the consolidation of trauma centers in the region during Tuesday’s panel.

“You can Google Level I trauma center and it takes 2 million people, we have 1 million, and we had 3. We had two Level I’s 20 miles apart it costs 1 million dollars just for neurosurgery coverage and it’s the same neurosurgeons covering two hospitals,” Cowart said.

Later on in the panel, Holston Medical Group CEO, Scott Fowler, had the opportunity to speak about his observations regarding the Ballad Health COPA so far. 

Fowler also discussed the trauma centers in the Tri-Cities region. 

“Maybe we don’t need two trauma centers, but maybe we need the trauma center in Kingsport, maybe we don’t need two children’s hospitals, but maybe where the children’s hospital is it needs to be looked at more carefully not just on financial grounds…it will impact the local economy it will affect the outpatient markets, it will impact the geographic distribution of services, not necessarily based on where patients need them, but based on what’s economically efficient for the systems,” Fowler said.

News Channel 11’s Jackie DeFusco is in Washington D.C. and will have a full report Tuesday night on WJHL at 11 o’clock.

You can watch the entire discussion at the FTC workshop on our WJHL Facebook page below:

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