Upstate lawmakers claim 'explosive' growth of GHS violates state - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate lawmakers claim 'explosive' growth of GHS violates state law

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GHS Cancer Center (FOX Carolina/File) GHS Cancer Center (FOX Carolina/File)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A group of lawmakers who previous asked for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the Greenville Health System has now asked for an investigation by the South Carolina Attorney General's Office.

In a letter to Attorney General Alan Wilson on June 6, Representatives Garry Smith, Merita Allison, Mike Burns, Bill Chumley, Dwight Loftis, Leola Robinson-Simpson and Tommy Stringer expressed concerns regarding the "anticompetitive nature" of GHS and its impact on the community.

The letter claims GHS now controls 75 to 100 percent of the market share and that its "explosive" growth has been almost entirely as the result of acquisitions.

The lawmakers requested an investigation into these acquisitions for possible violation of antitrust laws.

On Monday a spokesperson for the Attorney General's Office said they received a copy of the letter and Wilson would be talking with other attorneys in the office on what action, if any, to take.

The letter to the Attorney General predates an announcement on June 15 that GHS and Palmetto Health are partnering to create a new non-profit parent organization, which will be the largest health system in South Carolina.

After the announcement, these representatives along with Senators Shane Martin, Tom Corbin and William Timmons, forwarded the letter to the Federal Trade Commission for consideration.

Greenville Health System spokesperson Sandy Dees issued the following statement on the letter to the Attorney General:

We are aware of the June 6 letter but cannot confirm it has been submitted to the SC Attorney General. This June 6 request predates the announcement of the proposed affiliation with Palmetto Health. That transaction requires that the parties submit notification to the Federal Trade Commission prior to closing the affiliation. This filing under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act is extensive and will provide the FTC with the information that is needed for the federal agency charged with anti-trust compliance to review in advance the competitive impact of the affiliation. We are confident that the FTC will find that the affiliation is not anti-competitive and offers significant cost efficiencies, which will be of benefit to the consumers and markets in general.

Last year, many of these same delegation members asked the FTC to look into actions of the Greenville Health System and the leasing of the facilities to a not-for-profit entity, alleging that they believed the actions would violate anti-trust laws. The FTC looked into the request and issued a notice that it was not taking any action and its investigation was closed.

These are also the same members of the delegation who have on numerous occasions tried to block the efforts of GHS to improve care in our community. They unsuccessfully sought to have Governor Haley refuse to certify a public hearing held to maintain the tax-exempt status of bonds issued by GHS.  This would have cost GHS, and the people it serves, over $167 million in additional interest.  Governor Haley refused, calling it “an outcome that will not happen on my watch.” They asked the South Carolina Legislative Audit Council to investigate GHS, which the Council refused to do. They delayed and voted against seven nominees for the GHS Board;  these included leading citizens of Greenville,  Oconee and Laurens counties.  They asked, and the South Carolina Supreme Court denied, their request to enjoin the leasing of the GHS facilities. They introduced a budget proviso which would have immediately closed GHS hospitals, putting patients at risk. The General Assembly refused to go along, voting 79 to 8 against the proviso.  

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