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Charity Care Hospitals Told to Put Up or Pay Up in Wake of New Report
Date:11/8/2007

yers subsidize these hospitals at a cost of $241 million while our own public health system is bursting at the seams? It is time to bring these hospitals back on the tax rolls by establishing a Medical TIF District which would expand funding to our County's public health system and redistribute the property tax subsidies among those hospitals who are truly committed to providing health care for the poor."

This first analysis of property tax exemptions granted to non-profit hospitals, comes as the county threatens to increase a variety of taxes to plug chronic funding shortages in its embattled health care system.

Under State law, non-profit hospitals are absolved of their property tax obligations in exchange for providing "charity care" for the poor. But public records indicate that the County's non-profit hospitals return only a fraction of their tax exemptions in the form of charity care.

That disparity is most pronounced among the region's largest non-profit hospitals where charity care disbursements represent a miniscule share of total revenues. For instance, charity care levels at Advocate Health Care, the state's largest non-profit hospital system, are equivalent to only 1.1 percent of the company's total income, according to documents filed with the Illinois Attorney General's Office.

"The largest non-profit hospitals, which can afford to give the most charity care, are doing the least to earn their tax breaks," said Byron Hobbs, President of the Service Employees International Union Local 20 which represents a large number of County health care workers. "When these hospitals shun their charity care obligations, they inflict pain not only on patients who are deprived urgently needed care, but also on taxpayers, who are denied an equal return on their money."

Calling the charity care debate a "polarizing issue," Houlihan in a letter to the County Board, stresses that the "real issue at hand [is] what is the most effective, co
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SOURCE Service Employees International Union Local 20
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