Questions and Answers Regarding NHRMC Sale
On September 3rd, the New Hanover County Commission will be voting to explore the sale of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC).
Context: NHRMC is a publicly owned hospital. It is owned by New Hanover County, and is completely self-sufficient, requiring no funds from the county.
I have attended many of the forums hosted by the county and other organizations. I've had and still have many questions and reservations. I am keeping a running list of my questions, both answered and unanswered, on this post. I will be updating it periodically, so check back every now and again and I might have some new information.
1. Effect on Peripheral Communities
NHRMC serves seven counties, including New Hanover. A question was raised at the GWBJ Breakfast which asked how the more rural counties would be affected by this sale. When Mission Hospital in Asheville was sold to HCA, money was put in a fund for the peripheral counties outside of Buncombe that the hospital served; NC Attorney General Josh Stein later decided that it wasn't sufficient, and more money needed to be added to the fund.
Coudriet does not believe that the same thing would happen here. The taxpayers in New Hanover County put up the initial proceeds 52 years ago, and NHRMC has not received cash investment from other communities.
Based on this answer, I think it is unlikely that the county will consider the outside counties worthy of receiving funding to expand their own medical capabilities.
2. Can the contract be sufficiently enforced?
The question of enforcement has been raised at nearly every forum I have been to. The answer from Coudriet and Gizdic is always that the Attorney General would handle any problems that could arise regarding the non-compliance of the contract.
3. Regarding Charity Care
As noted in these forums several times, NHRMC provides approximately $200 million in charity care each year. Many in the public are concerned that a sale could curtail the amount of charity care provided by the hospital. In these forums, Gizdic has said that NHRMC would never enter into an agreement that could compromise their charity care.
There cannot be a public vote or referendum because of statute.
If NHRMC is sold, it will not necessarily be sold to a for-profit entity; 75% of the system is nonprofit.
No specific buyer is being considered by NHRMC at this time.
Employees will not be laid off, and their pensions will be safe.
1. How will the funds be appropriated?
It's clear that the County Commission will have access to the funds, but it is not clear what is intended to be done with them. The question of creating a trust fund for healthcare has been proposed, but it seems to have been denied by the county.
2. Who Will Sit on the Advisory Board?
Both Coudriet and Gizdic have made several references to an advisory board that they would like to form which would advise the County Commissioners on drafting the Request for Proposals. By all accounts, this would be a matter of extreme importance to the entire process, so the composition of the board will be hugely consequential. Who will sit on that board is an unanswered question.
I will be adding more to this blog post as I continue to learn about the situation, so check back in periodically.