State DHHS officials want a local nonprofit to pay to keep Medicaid in Greer
In 1991, Senator J. Verne Smith realized his vision to bring much needed health and human services to the people. Next week, the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is planning to close the Greer Medicaid office, taking the service away from the people.
The Greer Medicaid office serves many citizens from Greer, Taylors, Duncan, Blue Ridge, Lyman, Wellford, some come from as far as Fountain Inn, Piedmont, and Woodruff. The office provides space where citizens meet face-to-face with a Medicaid worker to apply for and manage their health insurance.
Medicaid is an income-based health insurance provider for children, pregnant women, the disabled, and families with dependent children in the home.
The J. Verne Smith Center in downtown Greer serves as a one-stop center for basic state services and non-profits; Medicaid has been at the Center since 1992. Greer Relief manages the Center for the City of Greer.
State DHHS officials recently insisted Greer Relief sign an agreement to pay for the facility costs of the Greer Medicaid office or they would close it.
“In late September I was given an ultimatum from DHHS either to sign a ‘DHHS Participation Form’ for Greer Relief to absorb the cost of Medicaid or they would leave Greer,” said Caroline Robertson, Executive Director of Greer Relief. “Greer Relief is a non-profit. We are not able to pay for a state agency to serve its own clients. Medicaid has been providing services to thousands of clients from the J. Verne Smith Center since 1992, what’s changed now?”
This closure forces Greater Greer citizens to travel to University Ridge in Greenville or North Pine Street in Spartanburg for a basic state service. With no public transportation from Greer to either Spartanburg or Greenville, the most vulnerable citizens of Greater Greer will suffer for it.
Two Medicaid employees currently work at the Greer location, and serve over 4000 walk-in clients a year.
When a DHHS leader was asked what their clients should do, the answer was for them to call the Medicaid 1-800 number; however, most of the walk-ins have already done so without a resolution to their need. Many are told to, “Go to your local Medicaid Office.”