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The unrepentant Baptist

Wake Forest University Baptist Hospital in recent years has not acted like an institution that wants to justify its nonprofit status.

As we first reported here in 2008, Baptist was forced to release a confidential memo explaining why it wanted to move one of its health care facilities closer to the town of Advance. The hospital report noted that Advance is almost entirely white and near several golf courses. Here is the exact wording: “The region is characterized by a predominately white population, at 96%. Only 2.5% of the population is Black and 2% of the population reports having a Hispanic ethnicity. The Advance region is home to two large, upscale golf communities.” Nice.

Now we learn from whistleblower Joe Vincoli, and from the state auditor, that during the last several years Baptist has overcharged the State Health Plan for outpatient services. As we have also reported on many occasions, the State Health Plan’s leadership has been inept for many years. That lack of guidance led to many terribly written contracts. Baptist took advantage of one of these sloppy contracts to charge the State Health Plan as much as it could, even if the charges violated the spirit and intent of the contract.

Vincoli, who used to work for Baptist, alerted the state to the overcharges and now Baptist is suing him for doing the right thing.

We have come to expect this behavior from large, unaccountable corporations. But Baptist is not some multinational company, it is a nonprofit that gets generous tax breaks from local governments and from the state. North Carolina grants Baptist permission to open new health care facilities in our communities. The hospital is behaving as if these privileges are inalienable.

In the meantime, there is a defense fund for Joe Vincoli at http://jvdf.org/. And hopefully the state and federal governments will begin asking some tough questions about the actions of Baptist, especially if the hospital remains unrepentant for its repugnant behavior.

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