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Citing cost, BCBS North Carolina CEO Patrick Conway comes out against Carolinas, UNC merger

The health systems touted the benefit of better leverage to negotiate deals with insurers when the proposed merger was announced in August.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

BSBC North Carolina office in Durham, NC Credit: Google Street ViewBSBC North Carolina office in Durham, NC Credit: Google Street View

BlueCross BlueShield North Carolina CEO Patrick Conway has come out against the merger between UNC Health Care and the Carolinas HealthCare System.

Should the deal go through, Conway said in a January 24 letter to the CEOs of the health systems, the cost to consumers would rise.

[Also: Carolinas HealthCare, UNC Health Care reveal intent to merge]

"Blue Cross NC has a responsibility to our customers to help slow rising healthcare costs," Conway said in the letter. "After a thorough review of independent research which shows that when healthcare systems combine costs for consumers go up, Blue Cross NC cannot support your proposed combination."

Conway told CEOs Bill Roper of UNC and Gene Woods of the Carolinas system that he was open to continued dialogue.

In August when the proposed merger was announced, executives of the two healthcare systems touted the benefit of the merger in giving them leverage to negotiate better deals with insurance companies and vendors.

Also questioning the deal is the UNC Board of Governors, according to The News & Observer.

UNC Board of Governors member Tom Fetzer, former chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, reportedly sent an email to the board chairman on January 18, questioning whether the proposed partnership was being conducted legally, as the board was to be apprised of any policy changes. 

The merger would result in efficiencies and $14 billion in annual revenue, according to the health systems.

Conway, MD, formerly headed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center. He was named president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina on December 5.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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