The Caswell County Board of Commissioners has scheduled a public hearing for May 17th at 6:30 pm in the courtroom of the Historic Courthouse to hear from the public about the sale of the Caswell County Home Health agency. North Carolina General Statute 131E-13 deals with the lease or sale of hospital facilities to or from for-profit or nonprofit corporations or other business entities by municipalities and hospital authorities. This is the statue, although is not really clear in the title of the statute, that would authorize or allow the sale of the Caswell County Home Health agency. There are several phrases within the statute that protect the residents of the selling agency (Caswell County) from receiving decreased levels of service.
NCGS 131E-13(a) states that when and if the sale occurs, the new company providing the services to the County and the sale itself is “subject to these conditions, which shall be included in the lease, agreement of sale, or agreement of conveyance:”
The word shall means that the following provisions must be included and the new provider must provide them.
NCGS 131E-13(a)(1) states that “The corporation shall continue to provide the same or similar clinical hospital services to its patients in medical-surgery, obstetrics, pediatrics, outpatient and emergency treatment, including emergency services for the indigent, that the hospital facility provided prior to the lease, sale, or conveyance”.
So, for the most part the buying agency has to provide the same services to the same population as the Caswell County Home Health agency.
NCGS 131E-13(a)(2) states that “The corporation shall ensure that indigent care is available to the population of the municipality or area served by the hospital authority at levels related to need, as previously demonstrated and determined mutually by the municipality or hospital authority and the corporation”.
In this passage, we see the word shall again, which means must. The company buying the Caswell Home Health agency must ensure that indigent care is available within Caswell County and provide those services at the same level of service and the same number of patients as the current Caswell Home Health agency.
NCGS 131E-13(a)(3) states that “The corporation shall not enact financial admission policies that have the effect of denying essential medical services or treatment solely because of a patient's immediate inability to pay for the services or treatment”.
Once again, we see the statute protecting the residents that do not have the ability to pay or do not have readily available insurance.
NCGS 131E-13(a)(4) states that “The corporation shall ensure that admission to and services of the facility are available to beneficiaries of governmental reimbursement programs (Medicaid/Medicare) without discrimination or preference because they are beneficiaries of those programs”.
This passage makes it clear once again that Medicaid and Medicare patients must be seen and they may not be discriminated against because of these types of insurance.
NCGS 131E-13(a)(5) states that “The corporation shall prepare an annual report that shows compliance with the requirements of the lease, sale, or conveyance”.
So, not only do they have to do all these things throughout the year, they shall (must) provide reports to our local health department on an annual basis and prove they are compliant with the terms of the agreement.
NCGS 131E-13(a) goes on to state that “The corporation shall further agree that if it fails to substantially comply with these conditions, or if it fails to operate the facility as a community general hospital open to the general public and free of discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, or national origin unless relieved of this responsibility by operation of law, or if the corporation dissolves without a successor corporation to carry out the terms and conditions of the lease, agreement of sale, or agreement of conveyance, all ownership or other rights in the hospital facility, including the building, land and equipment associated with the hospital, shall revert to the municipality or hospital authority or successor entity originally conveying the hospital; provided that any building, land, or equipment associated with the hospital facility that the corporation has constructed or acquired since the sale may revert only upon payment to the corporation of a sum equal to the cost less depreciation of the building, land, or equipment”.
This means that if for some reason the company buying the Caswell Home Health agency goes out of business or does not do all the things required of them in the previous sections, the business and their equipment would be returned back to Caswell County and at that point the County could again begin providing those services or search for any other home healthcare agency that may be able to provide those same services.
Currently the county funds the Caswell Home Health agency with between $200,000 and $270,000 per year of taxpayer dollars. This is equivalent to 1.37 cent and 1.85 cent tax per $100 valuation.
The County Health Director, Jennifer Eastwood said that several positions would be available for current employees of Home Health to fill if those employees chose to take them but a few positions would simply not transfer into other areas of operation within the Health Department.
At least three other Home Health agencies are currently operating with Caswell County other than the County’s tax supported Home Health agency.