County leaders say political ad about NHRMC being sold is ‘deliberately inflammatory’ meant to 'mislead’ citizens

County leaders say political ad about NHRMC being sold is ‘deliberately inflammatory’ meant to 'mislead’ citizens

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - County leaders say that a political television advertisement that is claiming New Hanover Regional Medical Center is being sold to an out-of-state for-profit corporation is “spreading false narratives” and “advancing political agendas.”

The ad, which has run on WECT, is paid for by the State Employees Association of North Carolina and advocates for State Treasurer Dale Folwell’s clear pricing project which he says increases transparency with health care expenses and addresses rising costs.

In the commercial, a narrator says the project “ends hospital secret contracts, makes billing transparent and fair” then pivots to New Hanover Regional Medical Center, saying the hospital refused to join Folwell’s Clear Pricing Project.

“They have a different idea: sell our county hospital to an out-of-state for-profit corporation,” the ad states. The narrator then asks “Do we want to risk a giant, out-of-state corporation profiting off our healthcare?”

The ad ends by asking viewers to tell “New Hanover, don’t sell us out, join Dale Folwell’s clear pricing project."

Julia Olson-Boseman, chair of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, and Jason Thompson, chair of the NHRMC Board of Trustees, co-authored letters sent to Folwell and the State Employees Association of North Carolina, saying the commercial is “deliberately inflammatory and meant to mislead area citizens.”

“You may say your office had nothing to do with these commercials, but we believe you could convince SEANC to stop them,” the letter to Folwell stated. “We would like you to do so. If unsuccessful, then publicly denounce the use of these lies to advance your cause."

In the letter, Olson-Boseman and Thompson refute the commercial’s claim that NHRMC is being sold to an out-of-state for-profit corporation, saying the NHRMC Partnership Advisory Group is “deliberately and openly working through the process of evaluating all options for the system” and the PAG has not made any recommendations to sell or merge because “there isn’t even a proposed sale or merger to consider at this point.”

“We understand your opposition to large health systems as they have had the strength to stand opposed to your political agenda,” the letter stated.

Olson-Boseman released a separate statement, saying they’ve asked Folwell and the association to "stop spreading false narratives that are only meant to advance their political agendas, and I sincerely hope they will stop misleading our citizens.”

WECT has reached out to Folwell and officials with the State Employees Association of North Carolina for comment. We are awaiting their responses.

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