North Carolina lawmakers want to exempt UNC Health from federal antitrust laws

North Carolina lawmakers are looking to make Chapel Hill-based UNC Health more immune from federal antitrust laws as the system looks to expand further within the state.

Under legislation passed by the state Senate May 1, UNC Health would be classified as an agent of the state, allowing the system to merge or acquire "hospitals or any other health care facilities or health care provider, without regard to their effect on market competition.

Because any actions from the system would be on behalf of the state, UNC Health would not be regulated by federal antitrust laws. The legislation would also prevent any M&A scrutiny from the state attorney general.

"UNC Health, which was formed by a state law in 1998, operates under a mission of improving the health and wellbeing of all North Carolinians. That statute has not been updated in 25 years, amid massive changes to the health-care industry," a UNC Health spokesperson told NC Health News May 2. "In order for UNC Health to continue fulfilling its mission as the state’s health system, that statute needs to be modernized to ensure that UNC Health has the ability to adapt to today’s rapidly evolving health-care world."

Under the bill, UNC Health would also be authorized to create its own retirement and health benefits programs for its employees. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further discussion.

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