WJTV News Channel 12 - UPDATE: State denies medical group's application for MRI

UPDATE: State denies medical group's application for MRI

UPDATE: July 25, 2013, 9:27 a.m.

A private medical group in the region will not be buying an MRI machine after the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency voted 6-3 Wednesday to deny Medical Care's certificate of need application for an MRI.

Medical Care's headquarters are in Elizabethton right across the street from Sycamore Shoals Hospital.

Sycamore Shoals Hospital is a Mountain States Health Alliance facility.

MSHA officials opposed the certificate of need application because MRI services are available at the not-for-profit hospital.

But, the folks from Medical Care argued MSHA is running up patient costs, since they have a monopoly on the MRI testing.

The state agency found the MRI machine would duplicate existing services and harm the community hospital, according to MSHA spokeswoman Teresa Hicks.

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An area medical group wants to buy an MRI, but the region's largest health care provider is trying to stop them.

Medical Care is the business trying to buy an MRI.

Its headquarters are in Elizabethton right across the street from Sycamore Shoals Hospital, which is owned by Mountain States Health Alliance.

Medical Care is trying to get the state to allow them to purchase an MRI, but MSHA is fighting it.

Under state law, Medical Care has to apply for permission to buy an MRI.

The law aims to keep medical costs down by making sure there are not too many expensive pieces of equipment in use.

Mountain States said it has a perfectly good MRI at Sycamore Shoals, and a second MRI across the street would be redundant.

"To have two pieces of really expensive equipment sitting there not being fully utilized is not a good use of a limited health care dollar," said Dwayne Taylor, CEO of Sycamore Shoals.

Taylor said it would also hurt Sycamore Shoals financially.

"I'm just really concerned about any additional loss of revenue or any additional loss of business from the community hospital," said Taylor.

But, Medical Care said MSHA is running up costs for MRI services.

"When hospitals own primary care, or the whole health care delivery system they inherently are feeding themselves and have an incentive to run the cost up," said Steve Hopland, CEO of Medical Care.

Hopland also said MSHA is making patients travel to Johnson City, instead of using the MRI at Sycamore Shoals.

"We've seen a continuous shift of services out of Carter County... we've seen a continuous shift of MRIs being sent to facilities in Johnson City," said Hopland.

MSHA denies that claim.

There will be a Certificate of Need hearing held in Nashville on July 25th to discuss Medical Care's application for permission to buy an MRI.

Both Medical Care and MSHA plan to attend.

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