We have to understand how HWA came into existence in the first place. It was built in a part of Orange County that was still considered rural at the time. The Town of Chapel Hill was built all around it. Its original use was mainly to train WWII pilots (the senior George H.W. Bush trained here).
Part of the land that the late Professor Horace Williams deeded to the university became a World War II facility for pilot training.
UNC's plans to build an even larger regional airport to replace HWA will meet daunting opposition, since we do not have a major need (such as a World War) to propel its implementation. On the contrary, there are many more obstacles in its path (environmental, fiscal, social, etc) than ever.
Before you celebrate the sudden surge in community consciousness that has overcome the executive branch of UNC Health Care, read their news release more closely.
" ...Since this policy change will take effect before the end of the fiscal year, base salaries will be adjusted to assure that the total 2007 compensation of affected executives will be comparable to previous years."
That's right... the *total* compensation of affected executives will be comparable to previous years and will be reflected in their base salaries. So, even though bonus % is being reduced, it does not appear like they will be getting very much less in total compensation. In fact, it may cost even more since the smaller bonus percentile will be calculated on a much larger base pay amount. And let's not forget that state retirement allocations are calculated on base pay...
What John Hammond neglects to mention is that UNC Hospitals covered over $200 million in non-reimbursable health care last fiscal year. Meanwhile the State legislature has not increased its contribution to our "only" state hospital in years. If he and others have a beef about the mission of UNC Hospitals, they need to ask their state representatives about funding their mandates. But wait...Increased funding means increased taxes. So much for that idea.
So we are back to the real question: Is the provision of health care for all citizens a right or a privilege? If it is a right, then NC should investigate the alternatives being considered by California and Massachusetts, and some Presidential candidates, to fund universal type care plans. If it is a privilege (the more privileged you are, the better care you receive) as it currently is in the United States, then I believe that given the circumstances, UNC Hospitals is doing a decent job of providing top quality, free care to as many citizens as it can.
Dean Roper may be an ego centric, self-centered bottom-line focussed CEO, but he is doing the best he can given the resources he has to play with, and I applaud that. In my 15 years in public industry this is the first year we hospital employees enjoyed a bonus. And that feels good.
If patients who cannot afford to pay, expect quality care, their options are:
1. Don't get sick.
2. Support candidates whose platform includes universal health care for all.
3. Pressure your legislators to increase funding of UNC Hospitals.
4. Move to Canada or any other industrialzed country and get free (or almost) health care.
Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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