News: CJ Exclusives

Berger: Senators, others working to settle UNC/Vidant dispute

Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham (CJ photo by Don Carrington)
Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham (CJ photo by Don Carrington)

UPDATE, 11:25 a.m., June 4: Vidant Medical Center and Pitt County issued a news release late Monday offering to settle the dispute with UNC. Tuesday morning, a legislative source told CJ the Senate health committee didn’t expect to discuss Vidant Wednesday. 

North Carolina senators passed a budget resolution May 31, but they’re still working to resolve a disputed provision involving Vidant Health.

The eight-hospital system in eastern North Carolina tangled with the General Assembly after it decided to strip the UNC Board of Governors of appointment powers for the board of Vidant Medical Center, the teaching hospital for East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine.

The Senate budget would chop $35 million in Medicaid funds from Vidant Medical Center’s allotment. The cut would devastate VMC and the region it serves, hospital officials say.

Sen. Don Davis, D-Pitt, gave a passionate plea on the Senate floor Friday, asking that the money be restored. Senators Jim Perry, R-Lenoir; Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan; Brent Jackson, R-Sampson; and Norm Sanderson, R-Pamlico, are working to find a solution. General Assembly leaders are weighing “all potential options,” Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said Monday.

“I applaud Senators Jim Perry, Bob Steinburg, Brent Jackson, and Norm Sanderson, who are standing with their constituents and ECU in working to find a resolution to the challenge in eastern North Carolina,” Berger said. “These leading senators are prime examples of how to work behind the scenes to build consensus and find solutions. They will continue to work diligently with stakeholders, including Senators Don Davis and Rick Horner, to resolve the issues created by recent governance changes.”

A Senate health committee will discuss the matter Wednesday.