Asheville Daily Planet
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Sunday, 03 February 2019 21:10

Effort lauded to safeguard WNC as Mission Health sale wraps up

This newspaper, along with many others individuals and groups in the area, was emphatically against the sale of Asheville-based nonprofit Mission Health to Nashville, Tenn.-based for-profit corporate conglomerate HCA Healthcare.

Our opposition was based on not wanting to lose local control of the largest health care provider in Western North Carolina, including a major fear that HCA, by achieving economies of scale through the purchase, would fire a number of current workers. (Mission, with about 12,000 employees and 2,000 volunteers, is North Carolina’s largest private employer west of Charlotte.)

Another concern was for the fate of some small rural hospitals owned by Mission. We were worried they would be closed or their services severely curtailed. Also, there was a the matter of where the sale proceeds would go, how the funds would be spent and the demographics of the board of Dogwood Health Trust.

In the meantime, the proposed deal (potentially exceeding $1.5 billion by some estimates) cleared hurdle after hurdle and finally landed on the desk of state Attorney General Josh Stein, where, to his credit, he carefully scrutinized the plan and its impact on Asheville and Western North Carolina.

Stein spoke with proponents and opponents of the deal and addressed with Mission and HCA legitimate concerns from some of the opponents that resulted in a number of stipulations that both parties to the sale agreed upon.

As a results of their agreement to the stipulations, Stein said he would approve the sale, which should wind up some time very soon, likely this month.

In announcing his Jan. 16 decision during a press conference in Asheville, Stein stressed the importance of continued access to health care for residents of the areas currently served by Mission. “Access to health care is truly a life-or-death issue,” Stein said.

“We kept that fact in mind as we conducted our review of this transaction,” Stein further asserted. “After extensive negotiations, I am satisfied that this new agreement protects health care in Western North Carolina, ensures that the full value of Mission’s assets will continue to be used for public purposes and requires that the Dogwood Health Trust will be independent and representative.”

While we regret losing local control — and the nonprofit status — of our health care provider, we feel that Stein did a terrific job for WNC residents by adding the stipulations that will make the impending sale endurable.
 



 


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