Abraham Mahshie – Contributing Writer
The office of Attorney General Josh Stein issued a press release late Tuesday to update citizens about the ongoing review process of the proposed $1.5 billion Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) buyout of Mission hospitals, including Franklin’s Angel Medical Center.
In the release, Stein is quoted as saying that his office has been requesting and reviewing information from Mission and HCA since July. He said hundreds of citizens have reached out to him, including “nearly 200 letters and emails from people in western North Carolina.”
The appeals from citizens concerned about the repercussions of the HCA buyout are greater than any other topic in the past three months, he stated.
Stein identifies three issues of concern: 1. Greater certainty about HCA’s commitment to continue to provide needed healthcare at Mission Hospital and five other rural hospitals in the system; 2. The role of the newly created Dogwood Health Trust foundation in preserving the community’s longtime investment; and 3. That the diversity of the Dogwood Health Trust board should represent the “full diversity of western North Carolina and remain connected to the public.”
“I will continue to get answers and work with parties involved,” said Stein. “I want to ensure that there are substantial protections for healthcare in western North Carolina, that Mission’s assets continue to be used for a public purpose, and that the Dogwood Health Trust is independent and representative.”
The Attorney General closes his message by clarifying that under state statute, he has the right to review any transaction in which a nonprofit corporation sells substantially all of its assets.
On Nov. 9, Franklin Mayor Bob Scott and Highlands Mayor Patrick Taylor traveled to Raleigh to meet representatives from the Attorney General’s office and communicate the concerns of worried citizens.
Macon County Commissioners Ronnie Beale and Gary Shields rotate attendance at HCA’s regular informational meetings. Beale recently said he agreed with Scott that more tough questions need to be asked.
On Nov. 21, a Mission Health representative declined an interview request stating the company had nothing new to report.
The representative, who did not have authority to speak on behalf of the company, directed The Macon County News to the company’s website, MissionHealthForward.org, where the company has posted answers to more than 130 questions.