ASHEVILLE, NC -- North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said he was more protections for rural Western North Carolina hospitals and their services before he signs off on the HCA Healthcare deal to buy Mission Hospital for $1.5 billion.
“There has been an outpouring of communication from people,” Stein said. “This is our office’s top priority.”
Stein said there’s no deadline since he is still asking for information on the deal. Once he has what he wants, Stein said the clock ticks on a 60-day review he has before deciding whether to approve or contest the sale. Stein said HCA and Mission have provided requested information so far.
“This is one of the biggest conversions of a nonprofit in the state's history. It is so complicated, and I'm going to take whatever time is necessary to protect the people of Western North Carolina," Stein said.
Stein has hired, Stout, a consulting agency out of Chicago, to do an independent valuation of the proposed sale price.
“They report to us. They're contracted by us. They work for me. They're finishing up their assessment, so we hope to get their report any day now.," Stein said.
His primary focus is to get HCA to extend the current five year protection for rural hospital services.
“There needs to be greater certainty in terms of what HCA’s commitments are in terms of what services they'll provide and how long they're committed to keeping open the rural hospitals. That is what I'm fighting hard to do," he said.
Stein also said he wants more diversity on the Dogwood Trust Board, charged with eventually overseeing a huge trust fund that will go to health programs and services. On Wednesday, Mission announced it added two women to the board, a banker from Henderson County and a teacher from Buncombe County.