Report on Hospital Charity Care Released
Some not-for-profit hospitals routinely overcharge or deny care to low-income uninsured patients, according to a Senate Finance Committee investigation commissioned by committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Washington Post reports. For the report, investigators during a 15-month period reviewed the charitable activities and billing practices of 10 not-for-profit hospitals across the nation (Day, Washington Post, 9/13).
Grassley last year requested the information from the Cleveland Clinic, New York Presbyterian Hospital System, Advocate Health Care Network, Advocate Health and Hospitals, and other institutions (American Health Line, 5/26/05).
Investigators also examined cases of alleged abuse, interviewed community groups and reviewed studies by health care economists.
The report finds that some hospitals have been taking advantage of IRS laws regarding tax-exempt status by offering some no-cost services but often providing little aid to the lowest-income residents in their communities. In some cases, not-for-profits fail to inform patients that such aid is available.
In addition, some high-ranking hospital officials receive perks such as paid country club memberships and stays at expensive hotels, according to the investigation. The report also finds some for-profit hospitals provide "as much if not more charity care" than some not-for-profit hospitals, Grassley said.
A hearing on the issue is scheduled for Wednesday (Washington Post, 9/13).