Hospital rates

As hospital officials talk over an offer to sell, patients at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center will be paying more for their rooms. The board of trustees voted last night to raise rates by 3-point-8 percent for the 2004 budget. Last week, the finance committee proposed only a three percent hike, but supporters of the higher rate say the slow economy, and a chance that the numbers of patients could decrease, left them little choice. Even with the increase, New Hanover's rates are still well below the average of major hospitals in the state.