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Sunday, May 19, 2024 - 11:04 PM

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE VOICE OF UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA

First Published in 1994

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE VOICE OF
UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA

Delegation Members Urged Media to Make Pubic Aware of Health System Board Attempt to Give Away Billions of Dollars in County Taxpayer Assets

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The massive Greenville Health System is property of the taxpayers of Greenville County.    The original Greenville General Hospital was owned by the City of Greenville. As the old facility became inadequate to meet the needs of the County, Greenville County taxpayers provided $82 million dollars to help finance Greenville Memorial and satellite hospitals in Greer, Simpsonville and Travelers Rest.

In recent decades, the hospital system has generated sufficient cash to mount major construction projects and purchase numerous medical practices. The original $82 million investment is currently worth billions.


 

The Greenville County asset is overseen by a board of directors appointed by the Greenville County Legislative Delegation. The delegation is accountable to the citizens of the county. The interest of the citizens is protected by Act 432 that lists 25 acts of governance that specify the duties and responsibilities of the board of directors.

The day-to-day management of the health system is the responsibility of a CEO hired and brought to Greenville from Chicago by the Board of Directors and paid an annual salary of $1.3 million.

Based on recent behavior, a majority of the board members have decided to follow the directions of the Hospital CEO and ignore and keep the Legislative Delegation that appointed them in the dark.

Elected lawmakers recently learned that the board and health system executives were allegedly meeting behind closed doors and planning to reorganize the system  in violation of the State Freedom of Information Act.

When lawmakers began asking questions, board members became defensive and evasive. Suddenly, the Healthcare administration, with the assistance of former board chairmen, went to the South Carolina Supreme Court and essentially asked for the court to sanction a plan that would create a new corporation and a new board of directors that would appoint their successors and have no accountability to Greenville County taxpayers or elected officials. The suit is very narrow in scope.

Three Greenville County members of the S. C. House of Representatives filed a “motion to intervene”with the Supreme Court. Representatives Mike Burns, Dwight Loftis and Garry R. Smith cited a need to stand up in defense of current state law, Act 432, which clearly states 25 specific duties of governing as the responsibility of the Greenville County  Health System Board.

These representatives believe that leasing these duties away in a long-term 40-year lease for one dollar a year is both inappropriate and tantamount to leasing out billions of dollars of assets owned by Greenville County citizens for less than “the proverbial 30 pieces of silver.”

The three lawmakers, joined by other lawmakers and private citizens and their attorney, held a news conference in an attempt to let citizens know the critical seriousness of what was taking place. They expressed their belief that the Greenville Health System Board has violated the Freedom of Information Act by meeting in secret and providing no notification to the public as is required by law.

The Lawmakers explained that they filed the motion to intervene with the Supreme Court to expand the issues the court will address so that the court is addressing the issues that are important and the issue which was asked in the original filing, which does not get to the meat of the problem.

They said that they are requesting  “that the court  address the issue of whether the actions being proposed will result in an illegal granting of authority to a private non-profit of the authority granted to the board by Act 432, and whether the violations of the Freedom of Information Act makes any decisions resulting from these meetings suspect under the law.”

The three Lawmakers who spoke at the news conference were clearly disappointed with the actions of board members they and their colleagues appointed to “represent the interests of the people who provided the assets to create and expand the Greenville Health System. Yet, the board members were willing to cede these assets without any public input.”

Tom Barilovits, a business executive and citizen of Greenville County, expressed strong views on the proposed “illegal monopolistic hospital takeover plan that will only line the pockets of GHS management.”

“As citizens of South Carolina, we can do better,” said Tom Barilovits. “Let’s tell GHS management that we are not giving away hard-earned taxpayer assets for nothing. Let’s remove the current GHS leadership and replace it with folks who embrace free market principles and welcome more patient choices and lower healthcare costs.”

Only one television camera from Fox showed up for the news conference.  All of the dominant media receives thousands of dollars from GHS for advertising. They are generous with donations to nonprofit groups.

Tom Barilovits noted that GHS also donates to politicians. That may explain why there were not more at the news conference Friday afternoon.

“There are some state-lawmakers, like Representatives Phyllis Henderson, Bruce Bannister, Dan Hamilton, Senator Mike Fair and others who take campaign donations from the GHS folks and others in the healthcare industry.”