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Dear UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine Teammates,

On Sept. 22, the North Carolina legislature passed a budget that included significant and historic funding for UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine. Understanding important parts of the budget, including Medicaid Expansion, Governor Cooper said that he will allow the budget to pass without his signature. We are appreciative of both the legislature and Governor for their support of UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine.

The state budget includes many investments in healthcare including Medicaid expansion, access and infrastructure support for rural care, substantial policies and funding for behavioral health care and a historic investment for construction of a statewide, freestanding new children’s hospital.

Our ability to fulfill our mission is strengthened through the investments included in this year’s state budget. Your continued hard work and the service you provide to our patients, students and communities each day helped ensure the support and confidence from the legislature as this budget was finalized.

Please review the brief overview below of several items in the budget that impact or involve UNC Health or UNC School of Medicine. We will share more information in the coming weeks and months, and please send any questions you have about the state budget to

Thank you again for what you are doing every day for the people of North Carolina and beyond.


– Wesley

Wesley Burks, MD
CEO, UNC Health
Dean, UNC School of Medicine

Provisions in the 2023 – 2024 North Carolina State Budget that impact/involve UNC Health and the UNC School of Medicine include:

  • Medicaid Expansion:
    UNC Health strongly supports Medicaid expansion to help us care for North Carolina’s most vulnerable populations. Medicaid expansion will insure approximately 600,000 North Carolinians, provide financial stability to our rural hospitals, and enable UNC Health to expand behavioral health offerings to patients in need.
  • Modernizing UNC Health’s Statute: ​​​​​
    The budget includes policy updates to modernize the statute that formed UNC Health in 1998. Key details include:

    • Teammates hired by UNC Health after a future date will participate in retirement and health plans offered by UNC Health, rather than the State Health Plan, pension or related programs.
    • The budget offers the flexibility, but not the obligation, for UNC Health to employ faculty and staff of the School of Medicine in the future, provided that those teammates remain subject to University policies.
    • Current teammates would have the right to continue to participate in State benefit plans, unless they voluntarily choose to make a one-time, irrevocable election to cease participation in the State benefit plans.
    • We will share much more information about these updates in the coming weeks and months.
    • Modernizing the statute also includes governance changes.
  • Raises for State Employees:
    The budget includes salary increases for state employees. Please remember that the raises in the state budget do not apply to UNC Health’s state employees.

    UNC Health generally provides annual pay increase opportunities for all eligible UNC Health employees. UNC Health most recently provided annual salary increases in January 2023, and anticipates an annual pay increase in early 2024. In addition, UNC Health provides the opportunity for an annual incentive payment. The UNC Health Board recently approved this year’s incentive payment, which is planned for Oct. 17 to all eligible teammates based on the percentage of FY23 goals achieved.*

  • University Cancer Research Fund:
    The budget includes $59.5 million annually for the University Cancer Research Fund (UCRF), which builds upon the exceptional research base at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, the state’s only public Comprehensive Cancer Center.
  • New North Carolina Children’s Hospital:
    The budget includes $320 million for UNC Health to build a new freestanding, flagship children’s hospital for North Carolina. This new children’s hospital will offer families in the Carolinas and beyond a facility that is comparable in clinical and academic scale to any of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country and will also include a child and adolescent psychiatric hospital. We plan to share a press release about this new hospital later today.​​​​​

    This hospital will be located in the Triangle, though the location is not yet finalized. The total cost for the new Children’s Hospital is estimated to be in excess of $2 billion. This project will create thousands of jobs during the construction phase. We expect it will take 8 – 10 years to complete.

  • NC Care:
    ​​​​​The budget includes $420 million to create NC Care, a new initiative that aims to improve access to high-quality health care for citizens and communities in rural North Carolina by establishing outcome-driven regional systems of care, beginning in eastern North Carolina.

    UNC Health and ECU Health will work together on the design of this new initiative with the goal of ensuring increased access and the highest quality care for rural communities across the state, beginning in Eastern North Carolina.

  • Additional Investments in UNC Health include:
    • Onslow Memorial Hospital: $1.25 million to establish a mental health and substance abuse case management program.
    • UNC Health Appalachian: $12 million for capital improvements.
    • UNC Health Blue Ridge: $3 million for capital improvements or equipment.
    • UNC Health Johnston: $1.4 million to finish construction of mental health beds.
    • UNC Health Southeastern: $6 million to support the residency program affiliated with Campbell University School of Medicine.

*UNC Health incentive payments will not apply to UNCPN Group Practices (UNCPN GP I & GP II), teammates employed by the University, managed entities or GME residents/trainees. These groups follow separate incentive payment models and/or compensation structures. Please contact your local HR representative with any questions.