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The Daily Tar Heel

WakeMed gains new allies againts UNC hospitals

A dispute between UNC Hospitals and the private WakeMed Health is no closer to a resolution after a late December meeting.

WakeMed requested financial information regarding UNC Hospitals’ charity care expenses and its private subsidiary Rex Hospitals in November, but UNC has still not responded.

William Atkinson, president and CEO for WakeMed, said the meeting was “generic, pleasant and nice” but that UNC did not provide any answers or any new information.

“We agreed to agree to meet later,” Atkinson said.

UNC declined to comment on the specifics of the meeting.

Atkinson said the only formal response from UNC has been the acknowledgement of receiving the request on the first day.

“It’s about freedom of information but we have not heard a peep out of them,” Atkinson said. “Their response has been silence.”

UNC medical center spokeswoman Jennifer James said they are still reviewing the records request from WakeMed.

Although part of WakeMed’s complaint against UNC is its partnership with clinics statewide, WakeMed announced in December new partnerships with three physicians’ practices and 13 physicians.

Two of these practices are cardiology clinics.

In December, Atkinson referred to UNC Hospitals’ partnership with Wake Heart and Vascular Associates as “predatory” and pointed out that “chasing hearts is exceedingly profitable.”

But Atkinson said the complaint against UNC is not against the nationwide trend of health services consolidation.

“It’s that the state funds it and not natural transactions,” he said.

Atkinson said this funding is designed to tip health care services in favor of the government systems.

“We continue to grow because the market continues to grow,” Atkinson said.

WakeMed’s partnership with one of the clinics — Holly Springs Medical Center — also expands its primary care network, he said.

“Financial arrangements vary and are designed to fit the needs of the physicians as well as those of the health system,” said WakeMed spokeswoman Debra Laughery.

WakeMed will also be the first consulting client of N.C. Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer, who is stepping down from his role with the party this month, he said.

Fetzer is a former WakeMed board member.

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