Ron Tamaccio: Greenville Health System Must Be Held Accountable

GHS ATTEMPTING “DELIBERATE END-AROUND” || By RON TAMACCIO || In late August, Greenville Health System (GHS) made a bold proposal to take over Greenville County’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Citizen displeasure resulted in the hospital’s agreeing try to work with Bon Secours St. Francis Health System and the Greenville County Council to seek a…


Ron Tamaccio|| By RON TAMACCIO || In late August, Greenville Health System (GHS) made a bold proposal to take over Greenville County’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Citizen displeasure resulted in the hospital’s agreeing try to work with Bon Secours St. Francis Health System and the Greenville County Council to seek a more inclusive, cost-effective arrangement.

Now, just a few weeks later, GHS proposes another, even more extreme, scheme to change the way the hospital’s Board of Directors (BOD) is appointed and approved. It’s not only an audacious overreach, it’s almost certainly illegal!

Under their plan, the Board purports to achieve “independence” by eliminating the requirement for legislative approval of its members.  If they succeed, the Board would become self-appointing and self-perpetuating.  It would also become self-empowered to sell, lease or transfer hospital assets to any entity it chooses, without legislative oversight.

At present, South Carolina Act 432 provides “citizen” oversight of the hospital system by requiring the Greenville County Legislative Delegation to vet and approve members of the GHS Board.  That’s because taxpayer dollars paid for all the physical assets of the hospital system.

Therefore, the Board are de facto “trustees” of those assets.

According to one House Representative, “Act 432 does not give the GHS Board authority to change its purpose or transfer any Board duty or asset.  Furthermore, recent successful FTC actions against hospital consolidations in Chicago – GHS CEO Michael Riordan’s former workplace – Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, provide ample evidence that the entire proposal is, indeed, against current state and federal law.

At the very least, it’s a deliberate end-run around the County’s Legislative Delegation toward the goal of acquiring absolute authority over any decisions to sell, lease, or transfer hospital assets.

Its aggressive implementation timeline will preclude the Legislature from intervening in the process.

In addition, GHS included several other, less-obvious, objectives in this proposal. First, it wants to create a healthcare monopoly within Greenville County by increasing its patient population nearly ten-fold. Next, it wants to continue to expand its presence beyond the geographical boundaries of the county – a proposal the voters rejected by a 4 to 1 margin in 1996!

Nevertheless, according to its administrators, “the hospital has to have a multi-regional presence” to succeed. The hospital simply has “… too many resources to limit its service area to Greenville County alone.” Finally, “if GHS does not ‘transform itself,’ another, even-larger, hospital network will ‘transform it.’ Translation: hospital executives and Board members will lose their jobs, and the hospital will lose its identity!

Apart from the legal challenges, there are several practical reasons why an “independent” hospital board is not in the best interests of anyone seeking medical care in Greenville County.

Here are just a few:

Oversight promotes accountability. Removing legislative oversight eliminates a major safeguard against cronyism and corruption. If the current system is changed, the hospital’s board will no longer be accountable to the public.  Instead, it will be free to disregard the public’s interest and focus solely on the interests of the hospital and its leadership; e.g., the CEO’s current compensation package that exceeds $1.3 million!

New members of the board will likely be sycophants of the current members, not independent, critical thinkers willing to challenge proposals from hospital management.

Consolidation limits patient choices and treatment options. Ample evidence already exists that “choice” and “options” both suffer when healthcare is concentrated into a single, mega-provider. Obamacare and its emphasis on “per population” reimbursements will cause this trend to increase.

Hospital mergers increase patient costs. Look no further than data from the American Hospital Association. Since 2008, mergers increased patient costs by 30%!

In conclusion, this proposal does nothing for anyone except GHS’ administrators and the hospital’s Board. By removing legislative oversight, it will likely harm patients and result in taxpayer assets being liquidated without compensation.

Ron Tamaccio is retired and lives in Greenville with his wife, Patricia.

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Superfly October 23, 2015 at 12:16 pm

It has been hilarious to see a handful of the Greenville Legislative Delegation, generally the most expressive in terms of their opposition to “Government Run Healthcare”, lay down on the train tracks, in support of “Government Run Healthcare”, supporting the status-quo that has the Legislative Delegation micro-managing the Greenville Hospital System. Garry Smith is one dumb sum-bitch, and even more so a stinking hypocrite.

CorruptionInColumbia October 23, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Good article, Ron! Lots of good information!
Thank you for sharing!

GHS is the debil October 23, 2015 at 2:14 pm

They already do what they want regardless of who is on the BOT. They spend money like they own the printing machine on expansions and building taj mahal’s for offices. Meanwhile, they reduce benefits for their employees and many (especially the nurses) are constantly being warned of possible layoffs. They’ve bought up most of the independent docs/ancillary services in the area and try to force in-house referrals for everything…cutting out all the independent practices. Imagine if they had been successful in taking over the EMS service…everyone with good insurance goes to GHS and everyone else goes to St. Francis. I say let them go private but force them to pay the county back for EVERYTHING that tax payers paid for (I heard it’s in the billions). Miserable human beings run that show.

El Kabong October 24, 2015 at 7:53 am

“I say let them go private but force them to pay the county back for EVERYTHING that tax payers paid for (I heard it’s in the billions).”

Wow…what a great idea, I’m sure costs won’t go up at all…

But I have to admit it is fun to watch a Tea Party guy defend government run healthcare and demand that the politicians be MORE involved in it…

Elfego October 23, 2015 at 9:38 pm

Tax Payers are everybody’s sucker because we do not have sense enough to get rid of lying,steal politicians and government employees.

Jamie Connely October 24, 2015 at 6:59 am

Have you looked at what MUSC is trying to pull off? Merging with Orangeburge Regional, Tidelands, and Kershaw hospitals? They just changed many of their statutes to achieve this. I’m sure GHS is just looking for the same. Meanwhile, insurers are eliminating coverage for these large systems where cost is so much greater (probably to pay for all of the acquisitions)!

Too Funny October 24, 2015 at 11:47 am

Tea Party morons want MORE governmental oversight?
These fools don’t know what they ‘believe’. i.e. Just the bigoted stuff

Waverunning October 25, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Sounds like a trick that big spending, high cost Lexington hospital will pull if they can. LMC already should repay Lexington County for tax money given to help them over the years. What I want to know is why there is no fiscal accountability for these public medical facilities. These “trustees”, at least at Lexington, are all political patronage hacks. Nobody ever sees the financials and the legislative delegations should insist on accountability and transparency since they are public entities paying very high salaries to their executives. For exact same medical procedure at Lex and Palmetto, it cost 55% more at Lexington. Lexington hospital also for years spending money sponsoring high end events yet don’t give a break to indigent patients. This is same hospital that says anyone on Obamacare can just “F-off” and go elsewhere. They don’t want you. If you don’t buy a $100 ticket to their events they don’t give a shit about you. A doc there told me the administration at Lex treats their docs like shit, they are all unhappy, but Lex spends significant bucks making things look like all is ok there.


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