Week of JANUARY 19–25, 2019


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Saturday, January 19, 2019

PUBLICATION:  The Asheville Citizen-Times
AUTHOR:  Sen. Terry Van Duyn, 49th District
SUBJECT:  Standing up for Aunt Mary Ann’s healthcare

SUMMARY:  My Aunt Mary Ann lived in Madison County, and suffered with congestive heart failure. A lung cancer survivor, the aggressive treatment that cured her cancer left her with a damaged heart. She was nevertheless always pleasant and upbeat. An avid crafter, she quilted security blankets for sick children, knitted caps for premature babies, and loved her weekly sewing circle at the Beech Glen Community Center (Their group won a 1st place prize one year at the Asheville Quilt Show!). Mary Ann had an enormously generous heart, but keeping it beating required complicated medical tests, monitoring, and an occasional rush to the ER when things got out of balance. When Mission Health announced they were going to be acquired by for-profit HCA, I thought of people like my aunt. Mission operates five rural hospitals. Would a for-profit hospital system have the same commitment to keeping rural hospitals open that our local, non-profit system had? Rural hospitals struggle to provide healthcare to a population that is disproportionately uninsured. If they couldn’t generate a profit, what would happened to the people they served?

 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

WEBSITE:  ourlocalcommunityonline.com
SUBJECT:  SEARCH Grateful For Positive Revisions to Hospital Purchase Agreement

SUMMARY:  The sun was shining but the people gathered outside the south Asheville community center were tense as they waited for N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein to arrive. Citizen groups from Highlands to Asheville to Burnsville and Spruce Pine were about to hear a much-anticipated announcement from Stein about the sale of non-profit Mission Health to for- profit HCA.  Since Mission Health announced in March its intention to be bought by HCA, the groups have been diligently questioning how the final deal might affect the member hospitals, individuals and groups throughout the 18-county region. They have also cast a skeptical light on the make-up of the Dogwood Health Trust.

ADDITIONAL PUBLICATION:
Wednesday 1.23.19 The Yancey Common Times

 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

WEBSITE:  citizen-times.com
REPORTER: Mark Barrett
SUBJECT:  Changes in Mission-HCA deal give rural residents more say, hospitals more protections

SUMMARY:  Changes in documents governing both the sale of Mission Health to HCA Healthcare and the foundation due proceeds from the deal create significant benefits for rural Western North Carolina. That's according to WNC residents who say the original terms of the agreement signed in August by Mission and HCA left Mission's rural hospitals too vulnerable to being closed and the foundation, Dogwood Health Trust, too tilted toward the Asheville area and current Mission leadership. They say a new agreement with Dogwood that state Attorney General Josh Stein negotiated and changes to the sale document Stein obtained dramatically increase the chances that rural residents and those in the Asheville area will get a fair shake when HCA takes over.

 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

WEBSITE:  citizen-times.com
REPORTERS: Mark Barrett & Dillon Davis
SUBJECT:  In Mission deal, independent monitor is ‘thoughtful, important addition,’ expert says

SUMMARY:  It felt like the end. At least the beginning to it. But as state Attorney General Josh Stein gave the thumbs up to a nearly $1.5 billion acquisition of Mission Health this week, stipulations negotiated by both sides — and at the urging of residents in the region — ensure the next part might be just as critical as the last.  Among the conditions of Mission’s sale to Nashville-based for-profit HCA Healthcare is the appointment of an independent monitor to go with the previously agreed upon local advisory board. Stein said this week HCA agreed to have an independent monitor review "whether it complies with its forward-looking promises," such as its proposed facility investments and its commitment to maintain a charity care policy negotiated by Mission. Under terms of the deal, HCA won’t be able to close hospital facilities or cut services unless both the independent monitor and the local advisory board agree to it.

 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

STATION: WLOS
SUBJECT: Attorney General does not object to Mission/HCA deal

SUMMARY:  We are exploring how this could impact the smaller hospitals in our communities…the system will now provide services for hospitals for ten years instead of five, something people in this community feel is the best decision.

 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

STATION: WCIV
SUBJECT: Dr. William Hathaway, Opioid epidemic

SUMMARY:  Here at Mission they see between 25-40 overdose patients each day…Mission Hospital’s chief medical officer, Dr. William Hathaway says in hospitals in western North Carolina, the crisis is getting worse.

 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

WEBSITE: wlos.com
REPORTER: Lauren Brigman
SUBJECT:  UNC Asheville students give back for Day of Service

SUMMARY: On this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, some UNC Asheville students are standing up to give back to the community through various service projects. About 30 students spent the morning cleaning classrooms at Asheville Middle School. From sanitizing tables to vacuuming and scrubbing surfaces, they spent the morning sprucing up while the kids are away. The service effort for these college students is seen a “a day on, not a day off.” “I think it’s a really important thing for us to just come together and give back to a place that inspires our youth so much and like teaches them not only about Martin Luther King, but about the other important figures in our community and society,” said Jenni Olvera. There are other projects happening around the county Monday as part of the Day of Service. It’s a partnership between UNC Asheville, the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County and Mission Health.

 

Saturday, January 22, 2019

WEBSITE: hrtechoutlook.com
SUBJECT:  Cost-Effective Means for Efficient Employee Engagement

SUMMARY: Recently, Mission Health System faced low employee engagement score, which really took a toll on the company’s productivity. Instead of an annual survey, the company opted for the best instant engagement analysis results.

 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

WEBSITE: studentloanplanner.com
REPORTER: Travis Hornsby
SUBJECT:  11 Best Small Cities for Nurses With big Loan Debt

SUMMARY: If there’s only one big hospital system in town, and that system gets bought out by a private group like HCA, you’re out of luck. I received emails just weeks before writing this post from readers who are incredibly stressed out because of the Mission Health acquisition a few months ago in Asheville, NC. Many of them had purchased homes and put down roots thinking they could rely on Mission Health’s 501c3 non-profit status to help them get loan forgiveness. When the main health system in town got converted to an ineligible for profit, the nurses were out of luck. Some are planning to leave the area, and others are coming up with alternative plans for their student loans. In fact, in some of the communities I looked at for this study, I ran into cases of hospital consolidations that are eliminating loan forgiveness for nurses.

 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

PUBLICATION: The Avery Journal Times
REPORTER: Don Richeson
SUBJECT:  Plateau-area officials react to HCA-Mission Health deal

SUMMARY: Cashiers-Highlands plateau-area officials reacted last week to HCA’s acquisition of Mission Health assets, including Highlands-Cashiers Hospital and the Mission Health Primary Care office in Cashiers. They expressed mostly favorable views on the acquisition. “I am extremely grateful for the magnificent efforts of both the operating board and the foundation board, as well as (CNO) Jackie Medland and her staff at Highlands-Cashiers Hospital for the countless hours everyone put in attempting to insure that the best interests of our residents, donors, and visitors to the plateau will be met in the years ahead,” Sam Lupas, chairman of the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital Operating Board, told the Crossroads Chronicle Thursday. “I want to also thank the citizens of Jackson and Macon counties, both private citizens and public officials, who lobbied on behalf of the hospital and its future.

 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

PUBLICATION: The Franklin Press
REPORTER: Jake Browning
SUBJECT:  Angel’s Medication assistance plan now independent

SUMMARY: Angel Medical Center has ended its affiliation with a program it once used to provide people with free and reduced-price medications. The program has now been established independently as the Macon Medication Assistance Program. The program’s transition stems from the pending acquisition of non-profit Mission Health by the for-profit Hospital Corporation of America. Because the Medication Assistance Program is dedicated to remaining a non-profit effort, it could no longer remain part of Mission Health’s network. Rowena Buffet Timms, senior vice president of government and community relations for Mission Health, said that helping the program continue its services in Macon County as its own entity with minimal downtime was a high priority during the acquisition.

 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

WEBSITE: 100daysinappalachia.com
REPORTER: Taylor Sisk
SUBJECT:  N.C. Attorney General Approves Sale of Rural Hospital System, But with Added Protections

SUMMARY: Citizens were concerned. They voiced those concerns. And it appears their voices were heard. When it was announced in August that Nashville-based HCA Healthcare had reached a deal to purchase Mission Health, many residents of Western North Carolina – most particularly those in the region’s rural communities – had trepidations about ceding control of their health care future to an outside operation. Mission Health is based in Asheville, a city of 90,000 and the economic hub of otherwise largely rural Western North Carolina. It’s a not-for-profit health care system – the only one managed in the region – covering 18 counties. In addition to its flagship medical center, Mission Hospital in Asheville, Mission owns five smaller hospitals in the surrounding rural counties.  HCA is a for-profit system that owns 178 hospitals in 20 states. The asset purchase agreement stipulated that a newly formed foundation called the Dogwood Health Trust would manage the proceeds of the sale, with an objective to use social determinants of health to improve the health and well-being of the communities Mission Health now serves.

 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

PUBLICATION: The Mountain Xpress
AUTHOR: Timothy Legare
SUBJECT:  Expect rising health care prices with Mission Health Purchase

SUMMARY: If the proposed transfer of the nonprofit Mission Health system to the for profit Nashville megacorporation, HCA, is completed, Asheville and its surrounding communities will lose control of a vital and excellent health care resource. The proposed money and power grab by nonprofit insiders, corporate outsiders, financial underwriters and city mothers/fathers (the crazed clique on the City Council) will undermine this fine institution and set the scene for large health care price increases. Such increases are inevitable when income streams from health care services are diverted to a supposed "community" foundation, to the city coffers to further the City Council's flagrant and unproductive spending initiatives, to securities underwriters who will immediately "earn large fees for underwriting the debt for this purchase and to the stock.

 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

WEBSITE: nashvillepost.com
REPORTER: Geert De Lombaerde
SUBJECT:  HCA Bumps Debt Sale to $1.5B

SUMMARY: HCA Healthcare executives and their investment banks have added $500 million to their $1 billion debt sale, which will help fund the company’s acquisition of Mission Health in North Carolina. Nashville-based HCA this week filed paperwork saying it has completed the sale of the $500 million — at a discount of 1 percent — in senior notes that will mature in 2018 and carry an interest rate of 5.625 percent. The remaining $1 billion, which mature in 2029 and pay investors 5.875 percent per year, is expected to be sold by Jan. 30. Shares of HCA (Ticker: HCA) were up slightly to $133.75 in Wednesday morning trading. Over the past six months, they have risen about 20 percent.


 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

PUBLICATION: The Smoky Mountain News
REPORTER: Jessi Stone
SUBJECT:  Mission Health Sale cleared by AG Josh Stein

SUMMARY: Those who were unhappy with the original terms of the proposed sale of Mission Health to a for-profit heathcare giant got some relief last week. During a Jan. 16 press conference in Asheville, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said he completed his review of the pending sale of nonprofit Mission Health to HCA. Stein’s office analyzed thousands of documents that included responses to questions from his office to Mission, HCA and the new health care foundation Dogwood Health Trust Stein’s office also retained an outside expert to provide an opinion about the fairness of the price — a proposed $1.5 billion — that HCA will pay for Mission’s assets in this transaction. Two experts hired by Mission Health concluded HCA is paying a fair market value for Mission’s assets. Lastly, Stein negotiated with Mission, HCA and Dogwood for a more favorable outcome for the people of Western North Carolina that Mission Health represents.

 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

PUBLICATION: The Highlands Newspaper
REPORTER: Brittney Lofthouse
SUBJECT:  AG Stein says OK to Mission sale…with stipulations

SUMMARY: After nearly five months of deliberation, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced on January 16 he will approve HCA Healthcare’s $1.5 billion acquisition of Mission Health Systems to go through without a legal challenge – with a list of stipulations. Last August, Mission Health announced its plans to be bought out by Tennessee-based healthcare giant HCA Healthcare, which immediately sparked concerns for rural communities with hospitals that are part of Mission Health System such as Angel Medical Center in Franklin and the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital…“His decision and approval is a big win for everyone in Western Carolina, including healthcare advocates, HCA, Mission, Dogwood Health Trust and local foundations,” said Highlands Mayor Patrick Taylor. The Dogwood Health Trust Taylor mentions is one of the stipulations Stein specifically outlined in his approval. The asset purchase agreement stipulated that a newly formed foundation called the Dogwood Health Trust would manage the proceeds of the sale, with an objective to use social determinants of health to improve the health and well-being of the communities Mission Health now serves. In addition, the board must be made up of members from the entire Mission/HCA area. The majority of board members may not be from Mission’s Buncombe county

 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

PUBLICATION: The Highlands Newspaper
AUTHOR: Patrick Taylor, Mayor, Town of Highlands
SUBJECT:  There’s good news and bad news…

SUMMARY: On Wednesday morning, I got a call from WLOS asking me for a response about the Attorney General, Josh Stein, coming to Asheville that afternoon to hold a press conference concerning the HCA Mission sale. I picked up Barrett Hawks and immediately drove to Asheville to be at the press conference. Barrett had done a tremendous amount of volunteer work in analyzing the original sale agreement, and I wanted him to hear the Attorney General’s decision. Attorney General Stein announced he was going to approve the sale to HCA and the creation of the Dogwood Health Trust based on the revision of the original Asset Purchase Agreement. He went on to identify the key changes in the APA such as guaranteeing the operation of small hospitals, i.e. Highlands-Cashiers, from 5 to 10 years. We discovered the AG had renegotiated many of the concerns that the Highlands Town Board Hospital Resolution had called for.It turned out to be a great day for the people of Western Carolina including the folks of HCA, Mission, The Dogwood, the local foundations and healthcare advocacy groups. This revised sales agreement will better serve us all.

 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

WEBSITE: mountainx.com
REPORTER: Daniel Walton
SUBJECT:  Council postpones noise ordinance changes over equity concerns

SUMMARY: On Wednesday morning, I got a call from WLOS asking me for a response about the Attorney General, Josh Stein, coming to Asheville that afternoon to hold a press conference concerning the HCA Mission sale. I picked up Barrett Hawks and immediately drove to Asheville to be at the press conference. Barrett had done a tremendous amount of volunteer work in analyzing the original sale agreement, and I wanted him to hear the Attorney General’s decision. Attorney General Stein announced he was going to approve the sale to HCA and the creation of the Dogwood Health Trust based on the revision of the original Asset Purchase Agreement. He went on to identify the key changes in the APA such as guaranteeing the operation of small hospitals, i.e. Highlands-Cashiers, from 5 to 10 years. We discovered the AG had renegotiated many of the concerns that the Highlands Town Board Hospital Resolution had called for.It turned out to be a great day for the people of Western Carolina including the folks of HCA, Mission, The Dogwood, the local foundations and healthcare advocacy groups. This revised sales agreement will better serve us all.