HCA declined repeated requests for the number of doctors who have left the Mission system since it took over in February 2019 and refuses to say how many doctors are on staff today, other than that the number is “relatively the same.” But Asheville Watchdog identified 223 doctors who appear to be no longer practicing there.
A 2018 memo, obtained via a public records request from the N.C. Attorney General’s office, says the “deck had been stacked” in favor of selling Mission Health to HCA by then-CEO Dr. Ronald A. Paulus.
Tax records examined by Asheville Watchdog reveal that in the decade leading up to the $1.5 billion sale of Asheville’s community-owned hospital system, a steadily increasing amount of Mission’s revenue went to salaries and bonuses for an increasingly crowded suite of non-clinical executives.
The news stunned Asheville and Western North Carolina, where Mission Health System Inc. was the area’s largest employer, its main healthcare provider, and a long-time source of civic pride. Seemingly out of the blue, Mission’s directors publicly announced on March 21, 2018, that they had voted to sell the 133-year-old nonprofit to HCA Healthcare.
As Mission Health begins to reopen for elective surgeries and procedures put on hold during the first wave of the ongoing pandemic, the unresolved question that roiled the community just three months ago remains: Was HCA’s purchase of Mission Health healthy for Asheville?
Earlier this summer, Kenilworth residents followed up on a complaint first sent to the city of Asheville in September 2017. They allege that changes Mission has made to address their noise concerns haven’t eliminated the problem — and that the health system wasn’t acting in good faith when it entered into discussions with the community.
HCA’s purchase price for the system, plus Mission’s remaining net cash and investments, would fund a nonprofit foundation specifically devoted to boosting public health in the region. At a meeting of the Council of Independent Business Owners, President and CEO Ron Paulus claimed that the new organization’s assets, which could range from $1 billion to $2 billion depending on the final sale price, would make it one of the three largest foundations in North Carolina and the richest foundation per capita anywhere on the planet.
Mission Health President and CEO Dr. Ron Paulus sees system expansion through mergers as a nearly inevitable survival tactic in the current healthcare environment. “There are many leaders — not me, but Mayo Clinic and others — that believe within 25 years, there will be maybe four or five health systems in the U.S.,” he said.
Hours after the Supreme Court announced its landmark ruling on health care, Mission Health CEO and President Ron Paulus made his own statement about what the 5-4 ruling means on the local level. His verdict? The ripple effect of health care reform remains to be seen. Above, Paulus reads his statement about the ruling. (Photo by Caitlin Byrd)
On April 12, Mission Health hosted a legislative briefing luncheon to discuss the implications of the recommendations made in regard to the Certificate of Public Advantage. On April 19, the state committee will make its final decision regarding whether or not it will approve all, some, or none of the five recommendations.