Report: North Carolina hospitals claimed losses, reported profits on Medicare

Report: North Carolina hospitals claimed losses, reported profits on Medicare
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 6:15 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - A new report shows that several North Carolina hospitals claimed to have lost money on Medicare, but reported profits to the federal government.

In a press conference Tuesday, State Treasurer Dale Folwell questioned non-profit hospitals’ commitment to their patients and their charitable mission. He says Medicare losses are typically what these hospital systems use to justify tax exemptions and price increases.

The report by the North Carolina State Health Plan and Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy shows that Novant Health claims it lost nearly $600 million on Medicare patients in 2019. On its actual federal report, however, the reported loss was nearly 300 percent lower.

That same year, Atrium Health claimed to lose $640 million, when it actually profited more than $100 million.

“These hospitals have lost their mission,” said Folwell. “They have turned into investment banking, real estate development companies. And oftentimes, almost every time that they do that, any profit they may gain from that, there’s no sales tax, no property tax, and no income tax on those gains.”

The report covers profit margins from 2015 through 2020, which is before Novant took over New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

“The hospital cartel is overcharging you because they can, not because they need to,” said Folwell. “Hospital executives can’t keep hiding behind Medicare. They tried to claim huge losses to justify financially kneecapping their patients. But now we know that the majority of hospitals are actually profiting off Medicare.”

Folwell says hospital executives are using Medicare as an excuse to raise prices and calls for more transparency in the healthcare system.

A Novant Health spokesperson responded to a request for comment with the following statement: