WakeMed confronts UNC Health over 'predatory actions'

November 29, 2010 3:55:43 PM PST
A battle between Triangle area medical behemoths began to take shape Monday as WakeMed Health said it has filed a public records request with UNC Health Care.

WakeMed said it made the request "in order to determine if public money has been used by UNC Hospitals or Rex Healthcare, both of which are owned by the state of North Carolina, in order to unnecessarily duplicate and shift services and gain an unfair competitive advantage over WakeMed, other hospitals, and physician practices throughout the community."

In a news release, WakeMed accused UNC of "predatory actions," that include "efforts to recruit doctors away from existing relationships with WakeMed that could jeopardize WakeMed's mission of providing care for all."

"While competition is healthy, these recent actions are not enhancing access or adding new physicians to meet demand, but are instead shifting and duplicating existing services, which is not good for the community," said Dr. Bill Atkinson, president and CEO of WakeMed in a statement.

WakeMed said UNC's actions appeared to be financed with public money during a time when North Carolina leaders are looking to make deep cuts to the state budget that could include teacher layoffs and the closing of state parks.

"We believe that leaders of our state - including the General Assembly, the Governor and the leadership of the University system and UNC Health Care - need to carefully consider whether public money should be used to compete with a strong system like WakeMed, which plays a critical role in providing vital health-care services to Wake County and the entire state," Atkinson said.

WakeMed also charged that Rex Healthcare - part of the UNC system - does not provide for its fair share of indigent care while WakeMed provides more than 80 percent of charity care in Wake County.

In a statement issued Monday afternoon, UNC Health Care said it had received the records request and was reviewing it.

"We are committed as always to complying with the obligations of the North Carolina Public Records Law," said Karen McCall, Vice President of Public Affairs and Marketing, UNC Health Care.

McCall did not respond to the specific allegations leveled by WakeMed.

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