Vidant Health issues blistering attack on “Raleigh politicians”

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Vidant Health, the Greenville-based health care system with $1.7 billion in annual revenue, issued a press release this morning attacking the state’s political leadership, a highly unusual move. The dispute relates in part to Vidant’s decision, approved by the Pitt County Commission, to block the UNC System from having any say in appointing members to Vidant’s governing board. UNC previously had the right to nominate a minority of those members. The move prompted a lawsuit by UNC that is now in mediation.

Vidant has also led opposition among N.C. hospitals to efforts by State Treasurer Dale Folwell to tie reimbursements for the N.C. State Health Plan to a percentage of the amount paid for Medicare patients. The plan represents more than 720,000 employees and retirees and makes up a significant chunk of Vidant’s revenues. Vidant has said the change, expected to take place on Jan. 1, 2020, will cut revenue by more than $30 million and endanger the prospects of struggling rural hospitals.

In the release, Vidant Health expresses concern that its leadership in offering medical care in eastern North Carolina is under attack. CEO Michael Waldrum said the UNC Health Care’s management agreements with several regional hospitals provide significant competition for his organization, according to a Business North Carolina article in March. Vidant has close ties with Brody School of Medicine, a unit of East Carolina University, which is part of the UNC System.

Here is the release, in its entirety.

The people of eastern North Carolina are under attack by Raleigh politicians, putting health care for millions and thousands of jobs at significant risk in 29 counties.

Vidant Health is not surprised by recent reports confirming the University of North Carolina System has been actively working behind the scenes to take over Vidant and ECU Physicians. It is part of a coordinated effort by outside interests and Raleigh politicians to “take dominant position in governance, deal terms, etc.” in eastern North Carolina. Despite this and many false narratives, the affiliation agreement with the Brody School of Medicine has always been and continues to be in effect. In fact, Vidant continues to support the education of medical students, residents and other health care providers, including Pirate nurses. The significant financial support from Vidant to Brody continues.

According to the News & Observer, “general assembly leadership is actively crunching the numbers” to create a new teaching hospital for East Carolina University. We all know here in the East that is not the right thing to do.

We will continue to engage in discussions including mediation and work with those who want to support health care and communities in the East, but we will also continue to strongly resist efforts to tear it apart.

On behalf of patients, families, friends and team members, Vidant is thankful for the support by Sen. Don Davis and the 20 other Senators who supported the people of eastern North Carolina. Vidant is facing a total of $73 million in cuts from Raleigh politicians. These cuts by elected officials are retaliation due to governance changes; those changes are designed to keep health care in the hands of those who care the most about eastern North Carolina.

Vidant will continue to fight for the communities we love, which includes some of the most under served in the state.

To join us in standing up for eastern North Carolina, contact your elected representatives in the Senate and House. Politicians need to know why these cuts are detrimental to all of us.

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