- Associated Press - Thursday, November 3, 2016

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Officials with Laughlin Memorial Hospital have announced a plan to merge into the Mountain States Health Alliance early next year.

Hospital officials said in a news release Tuesday that a letter of intent regarding the merger was approved unanimously by the boards of directors of both Laughlin and the Johnson City-based hospital system.

Laughlin cited the difficult economic climate small rural hospitals are operating in as a critical factor for why it approached Mountain States about merging.

The hospital says its revenues have increased less than 1 percent over the past five years while expenses have risen between 2 percent and 5 percent annually.

MSHA President and CEO Alan Levine emphasized the system’s new relationship with Laughlin is a merger rather than a buyout. No money will exchange hands.

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