The Iredell County Board of Commissioners agreed on Tuesday to express its “strong support” for Community Health Systems Inc.’s sale of Davis Regional Medical Center and Lake Norman Regional Medical Center to Novant Health Inc.

The Federal Trade Commission announced in January that it was filing a lawsuit to block the sale on the grounds that the deal threatens to raise prices and reduce incentives to invest in quality and innovative care that would benefit patients.

Iredell commissioners discussed sending the letter supporting the sale during their pre-agenda meeting on Tuesday afternoon and then added it to the consent agenda during their regular meeting.

The letter, addressed to U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell, stressed that “access to high-quality healthcare is very important to both our growing community and to our ability to recruit and retain employers.”

Commissioners shared their concerns with Judge Bell about Community Health System’s decision to cease operating Davis Regional as a full-service hospital and also to reduce the level of some services at Lake Norman Regional.

“To learn that Novant is seeking to acquire those hospitals and bring them up to their high standards, which we know by reputation if not firsthand knowledge, was welcomed news,” commissioners wrote. “It is our view that this transaction will help ensure that the Lake Norman Regional and Davis hospitals not only stay open but improve the quality and expand the availability of services to our community.”

Only Vice Chairman Bert Connolly spoke on the matter during the regular meeting.

“This is very critical to our county,” Connolly said, expressing his frustration that the federal government is more concerned about blocking a sale between two private companies than it is about stopping the flow of undocumented immigrants across the Southern border.

“If they mess around and shut down Lake Norman, we’re going to have a big problem,” he added. “I hope somebody will wake up. We really need community support for this.”

The FTC’s move to block the sale came 11 months after the two healthcare companies agreed to the $320 million transaction.

Under the proposed deal, Novant would acquire Lake Norman Regional Medical Center in Mooresville, which is located 11 miles away from Novant’s Huntersville Medical Center. Additionally, Novant would acquire Davis Regional Medical Center, a behavioral health hospital in Statesville, and other assets, including a physician group of 24 physicians employed by Lake Norman Regional Medical Center, a majority interest in an endoscopy center in Mooresville, and an entity holding a North Carolina certificate of need to build an ambulatory surgery center in Mooresville.

The FTC alleges that the proposed deal would allow Novant to control nearly 65 percent of the market for inpatient general acute care services (GAC) in the Eastern Lake Norman area, which primarily includes Iredell County and northern Mecklenburg County. Inpatient GAC services include a broad range of essential medical, surgical, and diagnostic services that require an overnight hospital stay.

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