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Bob Rucho

Former state Senator Bob Rucho was appointed this year to the UNC Board of Governors, which oversees the 17-campus system. Known for his forceful views as a legislator, the retired Charlotte dentist says the 24-member BOG is taking a more hands-on approach to overseeing the UNC System compared with predecessor boards, which he says may have been more deferential to chancellors and administrators. One example could be its handling of the pending transaction between Carolinas HealthCare System and UNC Health Care. The two systems have combined revenue of nearly $14 billion.

Here are some of Rucho’s comments on the deal.

“We have made clear that UNC Health Care needs to keep the Board of Governors informed.

“They have brought forward an interesting idea of teaming up in a way that isn’t a merger. They are trying to deliver efficiencies and improve access to better care, particularly in rural areas.

“No one has looked at the structure in detail.

“This seems like it may be a repeat of history after the way the banking industry grew from regional to national operators. It reminds me of how Hugh McColl built Bank of America by buying smaller banks in other states.

“We think it is a good idea for North Carolina institutions to be in charge of the state’s health care system, rather than out-of-state operators.

“People a lot smarter than me need to see if this is in the interest of the people.

“We clearly need to make sure there is still competition in Charlotte and Raleigh. (CHS is the dominant hospital system in Charlotte, while UNC is the largest Triangle operator.)

“Some people say it won’t be long before Novant and Wake Forest Baptist and Duke will form another group. It seems like they may have not a choice.

“We know that a lot of rural hospitals aren’t able to compete anymore. So the larger hospitals may be able to better serve rural areas.

“The Board of Governors doesn’t have a vote or an ability to authorize this kind of transaction. I’m not sure how much authority the state legislature has.

“We have a formal committee that includes Randy Ramsey and Carolyn Coward that is looking at this. They are asking questions.”

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