Group behind controversial tv ad about NHRMC sale exploration says it’s ‘accurate, sourced, documented’

Updated: Jan. 15, 2020 at 5:26 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The group behind a controversial political television advertisement that is accusing the county of wanting to sell New Hanover Regional Medical Center to an out-of-state, for-profit entity stands by the ad, calling it “accurate, sourced, and documented.”

The ad, which has run on WECT, is paid for by the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC) and advocates for State Treasurer Dale Folwell’s clear pricing project.

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 on Tuesday, saying the commercial is “deliberately inflammatory and meant to mislead area citizens.”

Robert Broom, the executive director of the SEANC, on Wednesday said that the organization stands behind every word in the ad.

“They are accurate, sourced and documented. We are calling on county commissioners to direct the hospital to join the clear pricing project,” Broom said.

When asked what documentation he was referring to, Broom cited a September report from WECT announcing that commissioners approved the resolution to explore a hospital sale and that such a sale could bring $1 billion to county coffers.

Broom also mentioned the list of possible suitors that was included in the request for proposal that the NHRMC Partnership Advisory Group approved last week. Among the possible suitors are several out-of-state conglomerates including HCA Healthcare and Haven Healthcare.

“The Partnership Advisory Group, on behalf of the New Hanover County Commissioners and NHRMC BOT, is legally obligated to send the RFP to any organizations that has requested it and review any proposal that comes in,” New Hanover Regional Medical Center said in a statement Wednesday night. "The group is requesting a range of partnership options, including those that enable NHRMC to remain independent. "

When reached for comment Wednesday, Folwell distanced himself from the ad, claiming he had nothing to do with it and hasn’t even viewed it.

“I haven’t seen the ad, I had nothing to do with the content, the production or the purchase of it," Folwell explained during a Skype interview. "They need to take that up know, the chairmen.. both these chairpeople know this. They need to take it up with the people who actually produce the content and bought the ad. This is a classic public relations gimmick.”

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