North Carolina HHS has received thousands of letters over HCA expansion

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has received over 2,000 letters from the public on the decision of which health system should expand in the Asheville, N.C., area, ABC 13 News reported Aug. 1.

Many have voiced opposition to the possibility of Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare being chosen. 

"HCA cannot staff the beds it already has," the Healthcare Equity Coalition of North Carolina said in a three-page letter to NCHHS. "Multiple credible reports establish that it has idled as many as 70 beds at Mission Hospital alone for lack of staff to care for the patients who might occupy them. That should come as no surprise." 

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said he is also against HCA being chosen to expand because it would cause a monopoly in the area, according to the publication. Asheville and Buncombe County elected officials are suing HCA, alleging its business practices in Asheville are monopolistic.

The area has been considering expansions for multiple health systems. One proposal is for Asheville-based Mission Hospital, owned by HCA, to add 67 beds. Two other proposals include granting either Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based AdventHealth or Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Novant Health an expansion. 

The proposals arose from a 2022 North Carolina Medical Facilities Plan citing that the area was in need of 67 additional beds. 

Nancy Lindell, a spokesperson for HCA, said HEC's letter was unfounded and added, "Mission Health has responded to the growing medical needs of Western North Carolina by adding a new behavioral hospital, building a new wing and pediatric ER at Mission Hospital, constructing a new replacement hospital in Franklin and expanding capacity at Mission Hospital McDowell."

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