AdventHealth said Tuesday on social media that it secured approval from state regulators to build a new hospital in western North Carolina.
The Florida-based health system elbowed out two competitors who were seeking to build a hospital to serve residents around the Asheville area.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services had yet to confirm the approval on its website as of publishing time.
Three competitors filed applications to build a 67-bed facility, including Novant Health, AdventHealth and Mission Health, which is owned by HCA and already operates a hospital in Asheville.
Mission Health said in a statement Wednesday it was disappointed in the state’s decision.
In some states, including North Carolina, hospital operators must secure approval to build new healthcare facilities. Operators must demonstrate there is a need for a new facility, or service, through what’s called a certificate of need program.
In the western part of North Carolina, there is a need for 67 additional beds, according to state regulators.
Economists who have studied the region have said competition is needed in the area.
North Carolina allowed Mission Hospital to merge with its only competitor nearly three decades ago. The state shielded the merger from federal antitrust enforcement in exchange for prolonged state oversight.
Eventually the state repealed the mechanism that shielded the merger, which paved the way for an “unregulated monopoly,” Erin Fuse Brown, a law professor at Georgia State University, wrote in a 2019 paper.
Immunizing mergers is known in the industry as receiving a certificate of public advantage, or COPA. The FTC has warned states against crafting COPAs.
In a recent study in the Journal of Law and Economists, researchers found prices increased substantially after Mission lobbied the state to repeal the COPA. Mission argued that the oversight was burdensome.