A State-granted Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) has afforded Mission Health System almost absolute control of the Buncombe County health care market and immunity from State and Federal antitrust laws. In return for this protection, the State is required to actively supervise Mission’s conduct. Under the COPA, Mission has significant incentives to aggressively compete with small community hospitals, acquire physician practices and ultimately consolidate specialty services on its Asheville campus.
The current COPA no longer provides adequate protection for patients, commercial payers and providers in Buncombe County and throughout the region. The COPA has existed more than 15 years without significant study or modification. Time and inattention have allowed Mission Health System to operate unchecked, all the while acquiring hospitals, private physician practices and growing its market share throughout Western North Carolina. Building on a near monopoly in Buncombe County, Mission’s focus has shifted to unregulated markets outside any COPA restrictions.
A comprehensive analysis from a credible, independent economist reinforced these concerns and the report’s conclusions demand action to correct problems that will only get worse in the future. While this is admittedly a complicated issue, the need for patient access and choice demand that the COPA be updated and strengthened to better reflect the region’s changing healthcare landscape.
Explore this website for complete information on this important issue.