‘Secret’ negotiations alleged in stumbling block for Carolinas-UNC merger

A board member of UNC Health Care has alleged the health system may have acted illegally by conducting closed-door negotiations on a proposed merger with Carolinas HealthCare System “for the better part of a year” without informing the board. The board’s leaders responded by saying that the member has a conflict of interest and shouldn’t be involved with the deal.

Tom Fetzer, the board member who made the allegations, is a lobbyist for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. Since the combined UNC-Carolinas system would have increased leverage in negotiating with insurance companies, he has previously recused himself from the board’s actions on the merger.

The substance of the allegations, however, could cause problems for the merger. State law, Fetzer said, requires the UNC Health Care System to keep the UNC Board of Governors apprised of any important policy changes. Instead, he said the board was only informed days before the merger plans were publicly announced.

“This is, in my opinion, perhaps the most important health care development in the history of the state of North Carolina,” Fetzer said to the Raleigh News & Observer. “If you kept this deal secret for a year, does that fall within the definition of ‘fully informed?’”

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