Thursday, May 26, 2005
An article on Modernhealthcare.com reports that Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has asked 10 hospitals and health systems for information on their charitable activities, patient billing and partnerships with for-profit companies. This inquiry comes in advance of legislation he will propose that aims at preventing non-profit organizations from abusing their federal tax-exempt status. He complains that not-for-profits shift the most profitable practices and income streams to joint ventures to share in greater profits. In a letter included in Grassley's press release, the senator posed 46 questions to the 10 organizations, including: define charity care; specify their percentage of uninsured, Medicare, and Medicaid patients; and indicate by how much charges typically exceed costs of charity care.
The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on tax-exempt status for hospitals. Earlier this year, the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked 10 large hospital systems, including HCA and Ascension Health, to detail the full effect of billing disparities on patients and provide information about the bills sent to consumers (press release).
Thanks to my research assistant, Lindley Bain, for he help in preparing this post. [tm]