Pamlico officials side with Vidant as state Senate leader explains defunding proposition

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Vidant Medical Center sprawls across much of Greenville in Pitt County.

Dr. Michael Waldrum

News Analysis

GREENVILLE –  Pamlico County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution – first drafted by Pitt County where Vidant Medical Center is a huge employer – that opposes a possible cut to Vidant’s state-paid funding.

View Resolution

The 7 to 0 vote came Monday night after the measure was hurriedly added to the meeting’s agenda.


The Pitt County Board of Commissioners wants 29 counties in eastern North Carolina to do exactly as Pamlico County has done – blindly follow Pitt’s bidding on behalf of Vidant – as healthcare costs continue to escalate in the state.

Many experts cite Vidant,  led for four years by Dr. Michael Waldrum, as the poster child for a lack of transparency in healthcare pricing. When consumers have little or no knowledge about healthcare prices, any cost-suppression measures are blunted.

The mega-hospital – once known as Pitt Memorial before its huge expansion over the past decade –  now finds itself fighting the state on two fronts.

The hospital’s recent move to eliminate directors, appointed by the University of North Carolina, has rankled top brass in the General Assembly – hence a threatened $35 million cut in the next state budget.

And, that lack of transparency mentioned above, could lead to a cut in payments from the State Health Plan, as State Treasurer Dale Folwell rolls out an ambitious project known as the Clear Pricing Plan.

Vidant estimates a separate $38 million annual cut attributable to the Clear Pricing Plan.

The following is a statement released this week by the office of Phil Berger, who leads the state Senate:

Sen. Berger understands and appreciates the importance of medical care in Eastern North Carolina. He would like to share with you all of the facts and the reason for the provision in the budget regarding Vidant, because it’s important to understand the full picture.

Vidant made a decision to lessen the role of the UNC System in its hospital operations. Many people have differing opinions over whether that is the best course for eastern North Carolina. And still others disagree whether that course requires legal action.

Nonetheless, like everyone, Sen. Berger believes that ensuring access to health care all over eastern North Carolina is an important goal for our State.

Because Vidant has chosen to lessen the University’s role by removing UNC system appointments to Vidant’s governing board, certain State funds related to public teaching hospitals may need to be reallocated.

However, we remain hopeful that leaders like Senators Jim Perry, Brent Jackson, Bob Steinberg, Norm Sanderson, Don Davis, and Rick Horner can bring all sides together to resolve the ongoing disagreement and cement UNC’s and Vidant’s relationship for the coming decades.