By Rose Hoban
For hospitals in North Carolina, the end of an era is at hand with the announcement that NC Hospital Association head Bill Pully will be resigning at the end of the year.
Pully, who has lead the hospital association for 17 years is only the third head of the 98-year-old organization. Before that, he was the lobbyist for the NCHA at the General Assembly.
“Bill is a great guy,” said Cody Hand, the organization’s current lead lobbyist. “I learned a lot from Bill and he took a chance on me and I appreciate all he’s done to help me and our clients.”
Hand said Pully set a solid foundation for the work of hospital advocacy in Raleigh.
“We represent, in the aggregate, some of the largest employers in the state,” Hand pointed out. “Without a solid trade association with good leadership our members would have to figure out how to navigate state and federal lawmakers’ various whims and desires while still providing care.”
Pully spent years on the board of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, where he took some progressive stances, said Pam Silberman, former head of the NCIOM, who now teaches health policy at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Silberman said Pully and the hospital association sometimes took positions that other state hospital associations would not take, such as advocating for increasing the number of people who would become eligible for Medicaid, even if that meant hospitals didn’t get more money for each beneficiary.
“The priority for hospital associations tends to be to make sure they retain good reimbursement from their state Medicaid programs,” she said. “But in North Carolina, Bill was involved in making sure the hospitals fought equally hard to make sure that people weren’t cut off.”
Silberman also praised Pully’s ability to get hospital leaders to think creatively about the future of their institutions.
“He was very forward thinking about quality and creating the North Carolina Quality Center even before that was the thing to do,” she said, referring to an organization that has focused on improving patient safety and improving the quality of care at the state’s hospitals.
“He was forward in thinking about population health issues, not just who was in the hospital but how do we keep people healthy.”
According to a press release issued by the hospital association, Pully will remain as president of the hospital association board while the organization looks for a replacement.