WakeMed today submitted a formal request for financial statements and other records from UNC Health, to determine if the system has been using public money to "shift services and gain an unfair competitive advantage over WakeMed, other hospitals and physician practices throughout the community."
WakeMed, which is trying to protect its position as Wake County's largest hospital system, claims that recent actions by UNC and its its Raleigh subsidiary Rex Healthcare will drive up medical costs for consumers, and do little to improve care in the Triangle. That includes recent affiliations with local physician practices, and proposed expansions at Rex's main Raleigh campus.
“WakeMed made the request due to numerous recent transactions by UNC Health Care which have raised serious public-policy questions,” said WakeMed CEO Bill Atkinson, in a prepared statement. “Specifically, the records request is to determine if UNC Health Care and Rex Healthcare are improperly using taxpayer dollars to compete with WakeMed and other health care institutions by investing in physician practices and other facilities.”
UNC and Rex officials have said that such moves will provide needed services to a growing population. They also say that the federal health overhaul is spurring such moves to improve cost and quality.
But WakeMed officials are questioning whether UNC should be given millions of dollars in taxpayer money every year to pay for expansions that will hurt existing health providers. UNC will receive about $36 million from the state this year to help compensate for the charity care it provides.
WakeMed is seeking, among other documents, audited financial statements for UNC Health, Rex Healthcare and Triangle Physicians Network, a nonprofit subsidiary UNC and Rex set up in October to start a network of local doctors' practices.
"We have received the records request and we're reviewing it," said UNC Health spokeswoman Karen McCall. "UNC is committed, as always, to complying with the obligations of the public records law."