News & Clips

  • $372 million in Medicare ACO savings from ACO's — Why Can't We Join This Program?

    Bobbit-still.jpgThe Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMMS) recently announced that its Accountable Care Organization program generated over $372 million in total savings from 243 programs in their first or second year.

    Six million of the $372 million in savings benefitted a single ACO set up by North Carolina's own Julian "Bo" Bobbitt in rural Texas, one of many that he helped set up around the nation. Bobbit, who is based in Raleigh, is part of Belhaven, NC's team of experts working to reopen the Pungo District Hospital — and, thanks to a federal investigation, all indications are that they will set up Belhaven's ACO as soon as Vidant Health and its parter organization Pantego Creek, LLC decide that it is in their interest to allow it. 

    The savings estimate for the first year of Belhaven's ACO, which will be of similar size, was less than half a million — an estimate Bobbitt felt was too conservative, perhaps understandably so. 

    CMMS explains the national implications of the success of this program in its recent press release quoted below in full:

    New Affordable Care Act tools and payment models deliver $372 million in savings, improve care

    Pioneer ACO Model and Medicare Shared Savings Program ACOs part of plan to improve care and lower health costs across the health system

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today issued quality and financial performance results showing that Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) have improved patient care and produced hundreds of millions of dollars in savings for the program.

    In addition to providing more Americans with access to quality, affordable health care, the Affordable Care Act encourages doctors, hospitals and other health care providers to work together to better coordinate care and keep people healthy rather than treat them when they are sick, which also helps to reduce health care costs. ACOs are one example of the innovative ways to improve care and reduce costs.  In an ACO, providers who join these groups become eligible to share savings with Medicare when they deliver that care more efficiently. 

    ACOs in the Pioneer ACO Model and Medicare Shared Savings Program (Shared Savings Program) generated over $372 million in total program savings for Medicare ACOs.  The encouraging news comes from preliminary quality and financial results from the second year of performance for 23 Pioneer ACOs, and final results from the first year of performance for 220 Shared Savings Program ACOs. 

  • Update from Mayor O'Neal via Lawrence O'Donnell

    Earlier on Sept. 8, 2014, Mayor O'Neal updated the Belhaven Town Council in more detail.

  • Washington Post column by Dana Milbank Cuts to Chase

    milbank.jpgThis column by Dan Milbank was written based on a 45 minute interview with Mayor Adam O'Neal near the US Capitol Building, moments after the rally that capped off O'Neal's 273-mile walk from Belhaven, NC.  It spells out pretty clearly why policies must change at the local and the national level if America is to continue to be a "first world country" when it comes to the accessibility of emergency health care.  This paragraph, about the tragic death of 48-year-old Portia Gibbs just after Belhaven's hospital was closed, sums it up.

    Studies have forecast that states’ refusal to expand Medicaid will mean thousands of preventable deaths each year, and the victims aren’t just the poor. O’Neal said Portia Gibbs had health insurance — but it didn’t do her any good without a hospital.  

    Read full article.

  • Turing Point? Dept. of Justice to Enforce Civil Rights Act, Vidant Relents

    Josh Birch reports for Ch. 9 news out of Greenville:

    The DHHS has accepted the Title VI complaint Belhaven filed against Vidant and Pantego Creek LLC. This means a full investigation will be completed by the DHHS on whether the closing of Vidant Pungo hospital has displayed unlawful discrimination based on race and national origin.

    The information came in a letter sent to NAACP lawyer Al McSurely from DHHS regional manager Timothy Noonan.

    "The other part in this letter that's important is that the office is committed to resolving this matter in an efficient and timely manner," McSurely said.

    Title VI prohibits an organization receiving federal financial assistance to discriminate against people based on race. In the letter, the DHHS said that since Vidant receives Medicaid and Medicare, they have to comply with these statutes and regulations.
    This comes after Vidant released a statement saying it is encouraging the LLC to transfer the hospital to the town.

  • Information is power: arm yourself

    The video below provides a strong overview, but if you prefer reading to watching videos, below are some documents you should read, and share with others concerned about rural healthcare, in particular in the Belhaven, NC region.  Three of these documents require membership in the Healthy Communities United Facebook group, which can be requested by hitting "join."

    Pungo Hospital Fact Sheet

    Summary of Business Plan for Coastal Carolina Collective — an Accountable Care Organization (ACO)

    Financial Plan for the new Pungo District Hospital

    Petition to reopen Pungo District Hospital

  • Thom Hartmann & Mayor Adam O'Neal, ongoing conversation

  • Mayor O'Neal's Speech at US Capitol

    See Fusion Films the live stream archive of the 7-28-14 rally here.

    by DON OWENS, SaveOurHospital.org

    Right now, America’s heartland is suffering through a crisis that strikes at its very core — more rural hospitals have closed in the past 2 years than in the previous 15 years combined. So far, media coverage of Mayor Adam O'Neal's 273-mile march to the US Capitol building has focused on North Carolina’s decision not to expand Medicaid. And, it is true that 20 of the 22 rural hospitals that rural America has recently lost are in states that failed to accept Medicaid expansion. But it’s actually a lot more complex than that. It’s about the relationship between the People, our laws, and our government, and the cost in human lives that rural communities are paying because corporate CEO's are putting profit before people, and getting away with it.

    In 1946, Congress passed the bi-partisan Hospital Survey and Construction Act, known commonly as the Hill-Burton Act. Sponsored by Republican Sen. Harold Burton of Ohio and Democratic Sen. J. Lister Hill of Alabama, the legislation provided grants and loans for rural hospitals, an objective badly needed at the time. In return, hospitals were required to provide services to “all people living in an area, regardless of race or creed, and to help patients who couldn't pay by providing free or reduced-cost care.” These funds helped to bring healthcare services to areas that hospitals had previously ignored.

    One such area was eastern Beaufort and Hyde counties in coastal North Carolina. Three years after passage of the Hill-Burton Act, local leaders in Belhaven, NC completed construction on Pungo District Hospital. For more than 60 years, the facility served as a critical access hospital for a town, current population 1,700, as well as a wide geographic area, much of which is farm land, current population approximately 23,000.

    In 2011, the Pungo District Hospital was taken over by Vidant Health, Inc. with a contractual promise to “improve, sustain and expand” it. Almost immediately though, Vidant began shifting profitable services and equipment away from the hospital, shifting unfair costs to it, and otherwise financially mismanaging it. Two years later, Vidant announced that it planned to close the hospital for financial reasons without informing or engaging anyone in the town or the region. Dozens of jobs were eliminated and $14-17 million per year will be taken out of the local economy as long as the hospital remains closed.

    Now there are thousands of people in who must travel as many as 85 miles to reach the next nearest critical care hospital. On July 5, a 48-year-old woman, Mrs. Portia Gibbs, experienced a heart attack and died in the back of a stationary ambulance waiting for a helicopter to arrive. They didn’t try to move her because with our emergency room closed, the distance by road to the next closest hospital was too great to even try.

    On April 3, Vidant Health, Inc. signed a Justice Department-mediated settlement to keep the hospital open and transfer its management to a local board in three months’ time. Instead of honoring that agreement, Vidant used a third-party company — one they paid to create and with whom they collaborate regularly, but claim to have no influence over — to break that settlement and close the hospital. What’s the Justice Department have to say about that? So far, all we know is that the Office of Civil Rights is investigating, and, we know such things take time.  The Department of Health and Human Services is investigating as well.

  • Mayor O’Neal goes to Washington

    Source: MSNBC

    GOP Mayor Adam O’Neal of Belhaven, NC, arrives in Washington, D.C. to highlight the closure of his town’s local hospital and why Medicaid expansion saves lives.

  • Belhaven mayor completes march to DC, rallies to save hospital

    Source: WNTC9

    BELHAVEN, N.C. -A local mayor, fighting for rural healthcare and a closed hospital, finished his walk to the nation's capital.

  • An N.C. mayor treks 273 miles to help rural hospitals

    Source: McClatchy DC

    WASHINGTON — Only four days after the Pungo District Hospital in Belhaven, N.C., closed its doors for good on July 1, Portia Gibbs suffered a heart attack in neighboring Hyde County, which has no doctors or hospitals.


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