RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The State Treasurer’s office released a report Tuesday claiming that most North Carolina hospitals are overcharging patients and lying about the impact Medicare is having on its bottom line.

The report, commissioned by the state with help from Rice and USC researchers, claims many hospitals claimed to have lost billions of dollars on Medicare patients when they were actually reaping profits. Hospitals’ self-reported data shows up to 66 percent of hospitals profited off Medicare patients from 2015 to 2020 and only 15 hospitals statewide consistently lost money on Medicare.

Treasurer Dale Folwell says with the money most of the hospitals are bringing in … they can afford to grant price relief to the state health plan — which teachers, state troopers and other state employees depend on — but they’re choosing not to.

“What’s happening with the hospital cartel is that they now own North Carolina and now Wall Street is owning healthcare,” Folwell said.

The North Carolina Healthcare Association sent CBS 17 this partial response to the report:

The latest report commissioned by Treasurer Folwell continues a pattern of reports that have used misinformation and half-truths and that make inaccurate conclusions. This report, like others the Treasurer has commissioned, fails to account for the incredible complexity of our healthcare system, including health insurance companies’ role in rising costs, and does nothing to advance affordable, high-quality healthcare in our state. 

The reality of the current situation in North Carolina is that a majority of hospitals have negative operating margins this year and that both Medicaid and Medicare reimburse hospitals for caring for patients below the actual costs of providing that care. We are seeing more hospitals laying off staff because of their financial situations. Our emergency departments are overcrowded with patients and running out of bed space. Patients with behavioral health needs are staying in hospitals for weeks because there is nowhere for them to go for advanced treatment. 

The North Carolina Healthcare Association

CBS 17 reached out to Duke Health, UNC Health and WakeMed for responses. We will update this story if they respond.

To ready the North Carolina Healthcare Association’s full response, click here.