By a vote of 30-16, the North Carolina State Senate on Friday passed a state budget that cuts $73 million from Vidant Health.

The bill now goes to the House for approval, then to the Governor for his signature.

Many are saying this version of the budget will not be signed by Governor Cooper because he has said the Senate’s plan doesn’t do enough for teachers, and he sees expanding Medicaid as a central focus even though the Senate left it out of their plan.

Greenville-based Vidant Health has launched the #StandUpForENC campaign to stop a total of $73 million in proposed state funding cuts by 2020.

In a statement released Friday, the hospital said it is frustrated that state lawmakers in Raleigh are “putting health care for millions and thousands of jobs at significant risk in 29 counties.”

Vidant Health also said it believes recent reports confirm that the University of North Carolina System is trying to conduct a takeover of Vidant Health, the ECU Physicians group, and ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, which Vidant partners with by training students and financially supporting the school.

UNC Health Care spokesperson Lisa Schiller released a statement following what they called “inaccurate news reports” about negotiations with Vidant Health:  

“UNC Health Care has no plan, secret or otherwise, to acquire or partner with Vidant Health. Even if there were plans, secrecy would be impossible,” said Schiller. A combination of UNC Health Care and Vidant Health would require the approval of multiple public entities and boards. It would also require a public bidding process under State law.

“Like all hospital systems, the UNC Health Care System is keenly aware of the rapid consolidation occurring across the country. All systems look frequently to consider potential partners. The leaked document was prepared by a consulting firm hired by the UNC Board of Governors to illustrate and educate them on what the consolidating health care market might look like in the future. It was not prepared to evaluate partners or to pursue new partners.”

“UNC Health Care has had numerous conversations with Vidant’s CEO Mike Waldrum and his leadership about the potential to work together to improve the health and well-being of the citizens of eastern North Carolina.  None of these conversations discussed mergers or takeovers.  UNC Health has the responsibility, through the North Carolina General Statutes and its mission to offer care to all of the citizens of North Carolina – not one region over another.  In addition, Mike Waldrum has talked with the UNC System and members of the Board of Governors in the past about the possibility of combining with UNC Health Care. Based on these conversations, UNC Health Care has never pursued it. As the rapid pace of health care changes, we wish Vidant Health success as they negotiate this landscape.”  

In Friday’s statement, Vidant Health says it also encourages citizens to contact their elected representatives in the Senate and House, to tell them “why these cuts are detrimental to all of us,” and directs readers to the StandUpForENC website to learn more about the situation.