- Associated Press - Thursday, May 14, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Franklin-based Community Health Systems is bringing back-office jobs from across the country to a new Nashville office.

The health care giant announced Thursday that it will build a 240,000-square-foot office in the south Nashville neighborhood of Antioch at an estimated cost of $66 million. More than 2,000 jobs will move to Davidson County.

The firm had considered building in neighboring Williamson County, where its corporate headquarters is located. Franklin Republican state Rep. Jeremy Durham said Thursday he believes the decision to locate in Nashville instead was retribution for Williamson County lawmakers’ opposition to Insure Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to expand Medicaid.

Community Health Systems Chairman and CEO Wayne Smith said he met with many lawmakers to ask them to support expanded Medicaid but the decision to move to Davidson County was “based on business, nothing else, not politics.” Considerations included the cost of land, opportunities for expansion and economic incentives, he said.

Durham said “there was never a quid-pro-quo discussed” at a January meeting with Smith, but Durham heard rumors at the time that the new office would move elsewhere if Williamson lawmakers did not support Community Health Systems’ position. Those rumors later came to pass.



Durham was a lead sponsor of last year’s legislation dubbed the “Stop Obamacare Act” to require Haslam to seek legislative approval to expand Medicaid in Tennessee.

Smith said on Thursday that the company is moving its back-office functions like accounting and internet technology from hospitals in 29 states to the new Nashville office. He said he doesn’t know how many current workers will chose to move to Tennessee, but he expects the company will hire a number of new people.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said the city is offering tax incentives that will amount to something like $8 million over 12 years. Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd said the state is still negotiating possible incentives with Community Health Systems that include job training and infrastructure improvements.

___

Erik Schelzig contributed to this report.

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