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January 2014
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Do Non-Profit Hospitals Do Enough Charity Care?

Interesting story at NPR today on charity care at non-profit hospital:

Nonprofit hospitals, including Mount Carmel, pay no federal, state or local taxes, giving them a competitive edge over their for-profit counterparts. In return, nonprofits are expected to offer a community benefit, including free and discounted care for low-income patients.

But despite the requirement, a study by the Congressional Budget Office found that on average, not-for-profits provide only slightly more uncompensated care than for-profit hospitals.

The federal health law passed last year attempts to address the situation by setting new rules for how a nonprofit hospital must report its charity care and serve poor patients. The rules have already gone into effect but are not being actively enforced.

Few patients who are sued by hospitals seek legal assistance, according to Kathleen McGarvey, a lawyer at Columbus Legal Aid, which currently represents six patients being sued by Mount Carmel.

She notes says that in these types of cases, the hospital usually wins by default, and the patient is accountable for the entirety of the bill, even if there are errors or duplicate charges. “I think for a nonprofit hospital, whose job it is to provide this community care, that it’s obscene that they’re going after folks who are at 100 percent of the poverty level,” McGarvey charges.

Nonprofit Hospitals Faulted For Stinginess With Charity Care

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