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GHS to move ahead with governance change

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The S.C. Supreme Court has denied motions by Greenville Health System to hear a declaratory action and a counter-motion for an injunction to halt the state’s largest nonprofit hospital system from including a private nonprofit entity in the hospital’s governance structure.

Joe Blake, vice president of legal affairs for GHS, said the hospital still contends “the law is clear that GHS has the authority to move forward with its proposed governance changes.” He added that the S.C. Attorney General’s office has confirmed that notion twice.

“The Supreme Court was fully briefed on our proposed changes, legal issues and intent to move forward with the new governance model in our petition,” Blake said, in a press release. “We are pleased that, while the Court declined to hear the case in its original jurisdiction, it specifically rejects the respondents’ request that an injunction be issued to prohibit further implementation of the reorganization by petitioner. Therefore, GHS will continue its plans to implement a new governance model.”

In January, the Supreme Court decided against any action on a similar petition filed in behalf of the health system, calling it “premature.” Since that time, hospital trustees have approved measures to lease the system assets and surrender some state-granted policymaking authority to the new boards.

Some members of the county legislative delegation have said the new governance model “is not in the community’s best interest and could jeopardize public assets.” That spurred the filing of an injunction to halt the health system’s structure change, which the court denied.

GHS contends the new model “is focused on improving outcomes, reducing costs and enhancing the patient experience. As part of the new model, GHS remains a public entity that leases its facilities to the Upstate affiliate organization, a private, not-for-profit that serves as the provider of care for the region like GHS does today,” the hospital said, in a statement issued following the court’s most recent decision.

The system said the strategic coordinating organization “sets the strategic direction and provides corporate support for the Upstate affiliate organization and any other affiliates that join the new system.”

A resolution approved recently by the trustees says they are restructuring in response to the health care industry undergoing “significant changes including shifting from a fee-for-service payment system to a system in which health care providers are paid based on the value they bring to specific populations. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has recently announced that by 2018 it intends to have value-based payment methodologies in place for 50% of all Medicare beneficiaries.”

“Transforming health care for the benefit of the patients and communities we serve is a responsibility we take very seriously,” said Lisa Stevens, chair of the GHS Board of Trustees, in the release. “Transforming health care is not just about the care we provide today but our ability to continue providing affordable, high quality care in the future. A rapidly changing health care environment requires a flexible structure, and this new structure will allow us to be more nimble and responsive to the changing health care needs of our patients and communities.”

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-720-1222.

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