By LINDA COMINS
The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register
WHEELING, W.Va. — Alecto Healthcare Services officials are confident West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice will sign a bill that could provide a certificate of need exemption for Alecto’s purchase of Ohio Valley Medical Center.
The West Virginia Legislature approved House Bill 2459 — which makes significant changes to the certificate of need process — on Thursday. After the bill reaches the governor’s desk, he will have five days to sign or veto the measure. A spokeswoman for Justice said the bill had not yet arrived at the governor’s office as of mid-day Monday.
Alecto’s attorney, Michael Garrison, said “we’re confident and optimistic” that the bill will be signed. “I can’t think of any set of circumstances to veto House Bill 2459,” he said Monday.
Of particular interest to Alecto, the legislation creates an exemption from the certificate of need requirement for the purchase of a financially distressed hospital. Garrison said OVMC is not in bankruptcy or receivership, but meets other definitions of financial distress listed in the bill.
As part of the Legislature’s action, the legislation would take effect immediately upon signature by the governor.
In the meantime, Garrison and Wheeling Hospital’s attorney, Thomas G. Casto, continue to prepare for an April 20 public hearing set by the West Virginia Health Care Authority at the request of Wheeling Hospital.
If Justice signs the bill, Garrison said he will write a letter to the health care authority and ask that the public hearing be canceled.
He said he also would provide the necessary documentation that OVMC is financially distressed and thus qualifies for an exemption.
“I think the (new) law is pretty straight forward, how we’re reading it,” he said. “I imagine they (health care authority members) will understand and will work to move forward. We’re prepared to meet with them and talk with them if there are any other questions.”
Garrison also expects that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will approve Alecto’s purchase of EORH. Legal counsel for OVHS&E is handling that matter since Ohio does not have a certificate of need process.
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