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So-Called "Charitable" Hospitals Often Ain't

By       Message Sherwood Ross     Permalink
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If President Obama wants to squeeze billions of dollars from (healthcare) spending, as Associated Press reports(July 1), he could begin by administering a dose of fiscal reality to for-profit hospitals masquerading as charitable institutions.

Such hospitals are getting tax exemptions because they are providing charitable care---free care or deeply discounted care---for those who cant pay, writes law school dean Lawrence Velvel. The problem, though, is that theyre not providing very much charitable care.

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Velvel points to Chicagos Northwestern Memorial Hospital as a case in point. It is exempt from about $50-million in property and sales taxes and exempt from taxes on the gains of its cash and investments of $1.82-billion. But the percentage of charitable care Northwestern provides is less than two percent of its revenues, writes Velvel, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover. Indeed, the $21 million Northwestern spends on charitable care is, according to the Wall Street Journal, but a fraction of what it received in tax breaks.

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Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular "Workplace" column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public (more...)

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