HCA Healthcare is facing a potential lawsuit by the North Carolina attorney general and criticism from at least 124 current and former physicians from Asheville-based Mission Hospital who allege the hospital chain is putting profit over patient care, NBC News reported Nov. 13.
The state attorney general wrote a letter Oct. 31 alleging that HCA Healthcare broke the terms of the agreement it struck when it bought the hospital for $1.5 billion in 2019 by not continuing services it promised to provide. The letter raised concerns about behavioral health, emergency and trauma, oncology and pediatrics at the hospital, and the attorney general warned that if the health system does not address these issues in 40 days, he is authorized to file a suit.
Additionally, 124 doctors signed a letter to an independent monitor watching over hospital management criticizing HCA; signees included nine former chiefs of staff, six former Mission board members and 66 actively practicing physicians.
"Profits over people is not an ethic, model or aspiration that can deliver the quality of care we all expect and deserve," the physicians wrote. "We ask that hospital leadership look at economics as if people mattered."
At the same time, a letter shared with NBC News by a hospital spokesperson said care remains excellent; that letter was signed by 75 practitioners.
"We continue to meet, and often exceed, the obligations under the asset purchase agreement," the spokesperson said in a statement to the news outlet. "The independent monitor has confirmed compliance every year since the agreement was signed in 2019."