Note: This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
NEW HANOVER COUNTY — North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein will not object to Novant Health’s $1.5 billion purchase of the publicly owned New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
After a three-month legally required review of the proposed asset purchase agreement and the addition of certain new negotiated conditions, Stein announced Thursday the parties have agreed to increase the transparency of the endowment bestowed with $1.25 billion in sale proceeds.
The endowment’s “representativeness” and independence of its board of directors has also been improved, according to Stein’s announcement.
As a result of negotiations, Novant has provided stronger committments to continue providing critical medical sservices residents in the region.
In its own announcement, a New Hanover County spokesperson said Novant and NHRMC plan to begin the partnership on Feb. 1.
The changes were informed by “valuable insight from community leaders” and a deep review of transaction documents, Stein’s office announced.
The AG’s office said the sale price was fair and the transaction satisfies state law.
“As this pandemic has shown us, few issues are as important to our daily lives as healthcare,” Stein said in a press release. “My attorneys and I kept that fact in mind as we reviewed this transaction. I am pleased to announce that our negotiations have resulted in stronger health care protections for the community and a more representative, more transparent, and more accountable endowment. Therefore, I will not be objecting to the transaction.
“That said, community hospitals are being purchased and merged into large healthcare systems all across our state. I have real concerns about what this means for the future of healthcare in North Carolina. Right now, my office has limited authority when conducting reviews of this nature. Under today’s state laws, we review transactions to ensure that the minimum requirements of state law are met; state law does not grant my office a discretionary approval right. I look forward to working with leaders in the legislature to determine whether or not North Carolinians would be better served by a more comprehensive system of review that could scrutinize further conglomeration of healthcare systems.”
Of the items negotiated, the county agreed to Stein’s recommendation that it add two new members to its New Hanover Community Endowment. The new members will be appointed by the current 11-member board and will have a background in one or more of the following areas: public health, providing support and services to underserved populations, or the promotion of racial equity and justice.
The endowment will also hold at least two public listening sessions to hear community input as to how it should distribute funds. It will create a community advisory board “reflective of a cross-section of the community” that will hold biannual public meetings.
Below, review a fact sheet on the negotiations and Stein’s nonobjection letter released by his office at 11 a.m. Thursday:
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