WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell is in Wilmington to attend Tuesday night’s public information meeting hosted by Save Our Hospital, Inc., the group opposed to the possible sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
Folwell is one of several speakers on the agenda for the event that will begin at 6:00 p.m. at the Northeast Branch Public Library, 1241 Military Cutoff Road. Folwell says he did not initially accept the group’s invitation to speak at the meeting.
“I wanted to see what their issue was, and make sure it related to what it is I’m talking about,” Folwell said. “My big concern on behalf of teachers, those that protect and those that serve, is that, ultimately, when you have a further consolidation of healthcare in the hands of fewer and fewer people, it’s the working people that are going to take the biggest brunt from that. Anybody who is in favor of less independent healthcare, less transparent healthcare, higher-cost healthcare, is going to be on the wrong side of history. I can promise you that.”
Folwell did address the political ad paid for by the State Employees Association of North Carolina that recently aired on WECT, which criticized NHRMC for not joining the treasurer’s “Clear Pricing Project." The ad also said the hospital wanted to “sell to an out-of-state for-profit corporation," a claim county and hospital leaders called “misinformation."
Folwell re-iterated his statement last week that the state treasurer’s office had nothing to do with the ad.
“I’m sure there will be ads that come out with my picture on them that have a whole different tone to them,” he said. “It’s not something we control. It takes our focus off the fact that no one in southeastern North Carolina or northwestern North Carolina consumes healthcare in this state. It consumes them.”
Regarding the Partnership Advisory Board, the volunteer group put together to help chart the future of NHRMC, Folwell suggested the members consider several issues in their work. They included looking at the long-term ramifications of any decision, listening to what he called “subject matter experts” who can provide data on past hospital sales and partnership decisions, and also listening to the “customers”.
I believe the State Health Plan is the largest customer of New Hanover Regional,” he said, referring to the program administered by the State Treasurer’s Office. “I don’t know how many customers are on this advisory panel, but listen to what the customers want, and not the investment bankers.”