Donald Trump-connected Ballard Partners is handling rural healthcare issues for Johnson City, Tenn-based Ballad Health, which was formed in 2018 by the merger of two rival hospital companies serving the Appalachian region.
The Federal Trade Commission publicly opposed the marriage of Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance, which serve 1.2M people in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia.
The deal went forward under Tennessee’s Certificate of Public Advantage instrument, which let the merger partners sidestep federal scrutiny.
The FTC held a workshop on June 18 to hear from people who believe patient care has declined in the region since the formation of Ballad. It also examined the impact of states’ COPA on the quality of healthcare, access, service and price.
Ballad released a statement Aug. 2 on the FTC workshop. It pitched the merger as a way to combine resources, reduce duplications, achieve efficiencies and improve services in a rural area beset by a declining population and filled with sicker/poorer people than those who live in densely populated areas
It also noted that 108 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, including a dozen in Tennessee.
Baker Donelson law firm hired Ballard for the healthcare push effort.
Brian Ballard, who was President Trump’s chief fundraiser in Florida, and Syl Lukis, head of Ballard Partners' DC office, handle the Ballad push.