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Haley approves GHS bond reclassification

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Thursday, Gov. Nikki Haley approved a reclassification of $600 million in bonds held by Greenville Health System.

In a letter to the Greenville County legislative delegation and Mike Riordan, president of Strategic Coordinating Organization – the body responsible for providing strategic direction for the Upstate Affiliate Organization – Haley said the potential financing fees that would hit GHS if reclassification was not approved was a driving factor in the approval.

“These extraordinary costs would ultimately be passed on to the patients and their families – an outcome that will not happen on my watch,” Haley wrote.

The GHS Board of Trustees approved a measure to turn the system into a not-for-profit health system which takes effect on Oct. 1. If Haley did not approve the reclassification of the bonds from public to private, GHS officials said they would have to put the bonds on the taxable market, incurring the additional fees.

Riordan said the governor’s decision was another in a long list of challenges to the governance changes that have been repelled.

“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,’” Riordan said, in a statement.

Under federal law, only the governor can approve a bond reclassification. In her letter, she said the issue of a change in governance was not the issue, only the bond reclassification. However, Rep. Garry Smith, R-Simpsonville, a member of a civil lawsuit filed in Greenville County against the restructuring plan, said that was not the impression he had.

“If that is the case, then she could have just stayed out of it,” Smith said. “By her signing it, she is siding with them, as I see it. She has certainly helped them by moving the bonds to the new organization.”

He said her rationale for signing off on reclassification was “invalid.”

“She is saying they had to because there is no longer a GHS, but a private non-profit and that is not correct because the political subdivision created by Act 432 is still there,” Smith said.

But, not every member of the Greenville County delegation is against the move. Rep. Phyllis Henderson, R-Greenville, said “politicians should not be making decisions about how to run the hospital.” 

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-720-1222.

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