Is the Rex-WakeMed feud over?

March 31, 2013 

OK, it may not be the Hatfields and McCoys, but WakeMed and Rex Healthcare, two Wake County medical giants, have had a few tussles over the years. Things really came to a head a couple of years ago when at one point, WakeMed tried to buy Rex for $750 million in a hostile takeover that had state legislators involved and WakeMed CEO Bill Atkinson and UNC Hospitals chief Bill Roper trading barbs in the media. That was settled.

But there remained legal disputes and standoffs, with each hospital system opposing the other’s expansion plans. But now WakeMed will get to add beds in Wake County, which Rex had opposed, and Rex will get to build a heart center.

The disputes, frankly, reflected the competitive nature of American health care, with hospitals competing for patients instead of finding a way to work together. The hospitals would say their hands are tied, and they must compete or go out of business, in which case patients lose. It’s hoped national health care reform might change the situation for the better.

Meanwhile, at least, two of the biggest systems in North Carolina will not be fighting it out in the heavyweight division, and that’s good.

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