Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chair of the Senate Committee on Well being, Schooling, Labor and Pensions (HELP), blasted nonprofit hospitals in report issued on Tuesday for charging sufferers giant charges regardless of the expectation that they supply medical care at free or lowered prices.
In his report, Sanders cited the case of a Memphis girl in 2007 who obtained a invoice of $12,019 following a process, which she was not in a position to pay together with her wages at the moment. The invoice subsequently accrued curiosity and was despatched to collections, and the lady was left with a invoice of greater than $33,000.
Sanders lamented how tales like this are “far too widespread.”
“Practically half of American hospitals are non-profits, a standing that affords them an unimaginable profit: exemption from federal, state, and native taxation,” he famous.
“In return for the tax advantages, the federal authorities requires these hospitals to function for the general public profit by offering a set of neighborhood advantages, which incorporates guaranteeing low-income people obtain medical care free of charge or at considerably lowered charges — a apply often known as ‘charity care.’”
Underneath federal regulation, hospitals are permitted to determine their very own charity care insurance policies and standards, resulting in variations in who can obtain monetary help. In a KFF report issued final 12 months, the group famous that hospitals reported $28 billion in charity care prices in 2019.
In 2020, charity care prices represented 2.6 p.c of working bills on common. Nonprofit hospitals are required to offer a point of charity care or different neighborhood advantages with the intention to retain their tax exempt standing. On the decrease finish of the spectrum, charity care prices represented 0.1 p.c of working prices or much less for some hospitals.
The Vermont senator criticized hospitals for making data on their charity care packages tough to entry whereas offering substantial compensation to their prime executives. He cited research that indicated most nonprofit hospitals spend much less on charity care than the quantity of tax advantages they obtained.
Sanders referred to as on Congress and the IRS to carry nonprofit hospitals accountable for offering “accessible well being care of their communities.” He urged Congress to make sure that these hospitals are offering charity care that’s “constant” with the extent of tax breaks they obtain in addition to set up “enforceable requirements” for hospital monetary help packages.
With out instantly citing Sanders’s report on Tuesday, the American Hospital Affiliation (AHA) issued a press launch in protection of tax-exempt hospitals. Citing a brand new evaluation it had performed, the AHA said that “tax-exempt hospitals offered greater than $129 billion in whole advantages to their communities in 2020 alone.”
“Hospitals are dedicated to making sure entry to care is out there to all who want it, no matter potential to pay, whereas additionally working to deal with the best well being challenges inside particular communities, notably medically underserved, low-income and minority populations,” the group mentioned in its assertion.
“As a part of that dedication, hospitals attempt to guarantee low-income sufferers have common entry to care by way of packages like Medicaid, which helps present the routine and preventative care so necessary for well being and wellness.”
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