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HCA-Mission Health deal sparks criticism from rural communities

Asheville, N.C., residents and government officials in communities served by smaller hospitals in the Asheville-based Mission Health system are concerned the potential deal with Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare will do more harm than good in their communities, according to the Citizen Times.

Here are three things to know:

1. Critics of the proposed HCA-Mission Health transaction claim the deal gives smaller rural hospitals within the Mission Health system fewer protections than their larger counterparts. They argue the board designated to enforce the sale contract will not be independent of either health system and is not representative of western North Carolina. Opponents also call on the North Carolina Department of Justice to force changes to the proposed agreement before the state attorney general's office weighs in on the deal, according to the report.

"We're not against the deal, but we want it to be done right," the mayor of a town served by a smaller Mission Health hospital told the Citizen Times.

2. However, Mission Health officials claim the deal would include reasonable safeguards for the system's five smaller hospitals and that those who oppose the deal are not familiar with the nuances of the proposed agreement.

"Critics are common in most every situation, no matter whether reasonable or not. It is human nature to compare any change to 'perfect' rather than present reality," a Mission Health executive told the Citizen Times. "Every single entity within the Mission Health system will have very significant protections with this transaction that they lack today."

3. But some critics have brought their concerns to the state Justice Department, which is still gathering information about the $1.5 billion proposed deal, a department spokesperson told the publication. Mission Health submitted documents related to the agreement in September. Once the department has all the information it needs, it has up to 60 days to issue a decision.

To access the full report, click here.

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