Greenville Health System to “go live” as a private non-profit Saturday


GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA-TV) October 1st, the Greenville Health System will start operating as a non-profit.

The GHS Board of Trustees voted to reorganize from a government run system earlier this year, but some lawmakers aren’t happy and filing a last minute lawsuit.

This lawsuit comes on top of a necessary decision by Governor Haley in order for GHS to move forward with their tax exempt status.

GHS is a special purpose district, so they needed permission from the Governor to reclassify 600 million in bonds from governmental to private, according to the health system. Without that approval, they’d have to pay back $167 million dollars in interest to the IRS.

Thursday, Governor Haley gave the go ahead, but she’s getting criticism from some of these same unhappy lawmakers who think she’s taking the side of GHS.

7 News was there this week as select members of the Greenville County Legislative Delegation announced their lawsuit against the Greenville Health System and their decision to become a non-profit.

Bottom line, they say that doing so takes the oversight out of hands of the governmental board of trustees and the public. Their lawsuit claims this move is giving away “a public asset worth 6 billion dollars” to the hands of a private company that may or may not even be based locally.

They want a court to rule if GHS is even allowed to restructure.

“Do not take away our assets; do not take away our patient centered healthcare. We will not stand idly by for that,” said Rep. Garry Smith of Simpsonville.

It’s important to note that not every lawmaker in the Greenville County Legislative Delegation agrees with this lawsuit. Representative Phyllis Henderson told 7 News that she doesn’t think politicians should be making decisions on how to run the hospital.

As for Governor Haley, she said she was aware of lawmaker’s dissatisfaction, but that wasn’t the issue in front of her at this moment.

“The only decision before me is whether to approve the bond reclassification request,” Governor Haley said in a letter to the delegation and GHS President and CEO, Mike Riordan. “This very technical tax issue has high stakes for GHS patients. If I do not approve this request, IRS regulations would cost GHS $167 million in financing fees starting October 1ST. These extraordinary costs would ultimately be passed on to patients and their families—an outcome that will not happen on my watch.”

7 News contacted Greenville Health System President and CEO, Mike Riordan, for comment.

“We are delighted that the interests of patients and people paying for health care prevailed,” said Riordan in a statement. “We are encouraged that each time our governance change is challenged, it is upheld. As the Governor stated in her letter, ‘My hope is that these similar issues can be resolved so that GHS can move forward and follow through with its commitment to better serve the Upstate.’”

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