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Blog: Shortsighted Charity Care Article

All hospitals and healthcare systems, regardless of size, location, and type of ownership, are deeply dedicated to caring for their patients and communities in various ways. A May report from respected accounting firm EY shows that for every dollar invested in nonprofit hospitals and healthcare systems through the federal tax exemption, nearly $9 in profits are returned to communities. Additionally, a June report from the AHA found that tax-exempt hospitals provided more than $110 billion in total benefits to their communities in 2019 alone, the most recent year for which data is available. complete are available.

A recent the wall street journal the article fails to recognize that charitable care is only part of a hospital’s total benefit to the community. Looking only at charitable care ignores the many other programs and services that hospitals provide to meet the many and varied needs of their community. Examples include help to access healthy food, educational programs and health screenings, transportation to ensure patients get to needed medical appointments, programs to help pay for necessary medications, and a housing assistance and other efforts to address societal factors that influence health, among many others. .

The article also overlooks the critical contributions hospitals have made to their communities during the pandemic. For example, a number of hospitals and health systems have invested considerable funds and expertise in developing COVID-19 tests after setbacks by public health agencies. Hospitals also expanded treatment capacity and set up alternative care sites, especially when COVID-19 cases increased, set up vaccination clinics and launched awareness campaigns to ensure that all the world has access to vaccines, to name a few examples.

All hospitals and healthcare systems also bear many uncompensated and unreimbursed costs related to patient care. For example, hospitals not only provide financial assistance to patients, but also “relieve the government’s burden,” a touchstone of tax exemption, by absorbing underpayments from means-tested government programs such as Medicaid. , as well as Medicare.

Even the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent agency that advises Congress on the Medicare program, recognizes that Medicare does not cover the full cost of care for our seniors. Combined Medicare and Medicaid underpayments were $100.4 billion in 2020, down from $75.8 billion in 2019.

In addition, hospitals subsidize the high cost of many essential services for their communities, such as trauma, burn care and neonatology units. And, hospitals and health systems continue to provide these services even as the cost of providing care continues to rise dramatically due to a range of factors beyond their control, including rising inflation and the massive growth in the cost of drugs, labor, supplies and equipment.

America’s hospitals and healthcare systems do more than any other part of healthcare to support patients and communities. In total, hospitals of all types have provided nearly $745 billion in unpaid patient care since 2000. Our doors are always open, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless of ability to pay and health. patient’s state of health.