Charity Care Spending Low at San Francisco Hospitals, Report Finds
Two not-for-profit hospitals in San Francisco last year received more in tax exemptions for charity care than they spent on providing such services to low-income and uninsured residents, according to a report by the city Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The report found that California Pacific Medical Center, with three campuses in San Francisco, received nearly $70 million in state, federal and local tax exemptions, but spent only $5.2 million on charity care.
Chinese Hospital, meanwhile, received $3.8 million more in tax breaks than it spent on charity care. By contrast, the city's three other not-for-profit hospitals all spent more on charity care than the amount in tax exemptions.
In total, San Francisco's five not-for-profit hospitals received $79 million in tax breaks last year and spent $16 million on charity care. The hospitals treated a combined 16,000 charity care patients, compared with 81,000 charity patients treated at San Francisco General Hospital, the city's public hospital.
Kevin McCormack, spokesperson for California Pacific, said the report had a limited definition of charity care and did not account for several programs at the hospital, including a new low-cost health center for children.
McCormack added that not-for-profit hospitals receive lower reimbursement rates for Medi-Cal services than public hospitals. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
However, California Pacific still received $4.6 million more than it spent when reimbursement rates and other factors are taken into account, according to the report.
Supervisor Tom Ammiano said the report's findings highlight the need for supervisors and Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) to urge not-for-profit hospitals to provide more charity care, especially as the city works to expand its new universal health care access program (Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/29).