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Breaking: N.C. officials’ inspection clears way for CMS to lift ‘immediate jeopardy’ at Mission Hospital


This is a breaking story and was updated to reflect the letter from DHHS and response from CMS.

Mission Health has passed state health department inspections, potentially paving the way for federal officials to remove the “immediate jeopardy” designation that threatened the hospital’s Medicare funding.

In a letter to Mission Health employees, released by HCA on Tuesday, the health care giant said it had “received formal notification from the NC Department of Health and Human Services that the recent re-visit from State surveyors found Mission to be compliant with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Conditions of Participation.”

In a letter to Mission Health CEO Chad Patrick, Debbie McCarty, nurse consultant lead at the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said the state agency recommends compliance with the necessary regulations. The letter said CMS would notify the health care provider of its findings and any required actions.

The hospital faced several serious allegations in a 384-page report issued by CMS in February. HCA then submitted a plan of correction that CMS accepted. The report detailed nine incidents that took place between April 2022 to November 2023. Under the corrective plan, HCA had until June 5 to remedy the issues andsatisfy state surveyors at an unannounced visit.

In March, CMS notified HCA of its noncompliance with another regulation: the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act, or EMTALA. CMS officials said that while it had accepted the plans to fix the issues, the health care company risked termination if state officials did not find compliance with the corrective plans by June 5.

In a statement June 11, a CMS spokesperson confirmed the agency has received state inspectors’ recommendations and is in the process of coming to a determination.

“On June 4, 2024, CMS suspended the prospective termination of Mission Memorial Hospital and Asheville Survey Center based on the improvements and corrections by the providers on the May 24, 2024, revisit survey,” the spokesperson said.

The recent inspections and subsequent state recommendations are part of CMS’s review of whether problems at the facilities should result in a loss of participation in Medicare programs.

More than 10 surveyors interviewed patients and clinicians at Mission Health, according to the letter from HCA officials. “Patients are receiving excellent care, often exceeding their expectations,” President of HCA’s North Carolina division Greg Lowe wrote in the letter.

NCDHHS confirmed the compliance recommendation in a letter to HCA.

The issue is just one of the challenges facing the health care provider. In December 2023, Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Stein filed suit against HCA, alleging the health care company failed to meet the obligations required by the 2019 sale of then-nonprofit Mission Health.

Even if the “immediate jeopardy” designation is removed, Mission Health must still follow CMS recommendations, state officials explained in February. Stein has said his lawsuit will continue, independent of CMS’ decision over the hospital’s federal funding.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
Felicia Sonmez is a reporter covering growth and development for Blue Ridge Public Radio.
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