A modest proposal: Non-profits, for-profit hospitals meet in the middle


OK, I'm still working this out in my head here, so there will probably be a few flaws, but let's see how this sounds to y'all.

Right now, as we try to figure out how to pay for care for everyone in the U.S., we've got community not-for-profits on one side and investor-owned hospitals on the other. While for-profit hospitals pay the "EMTALA tax," as some wags put it, not-for-profits are supposedly doling out care for all as the sick stream into their emergency departments.

What if both sides had to pay some form of "poor tax" that covered the uninsured, above and beyond their EMTALA burden, lessening the non-profits tax-exemption admittedly, but raising the amount of money that could be allocated to help for-profits pay for uninsured patients?

Is this a crazy idea? Could it work? Would it be possible to allocate the money from some central pool? Or are there some big glaring problems with this I'm not seeing, other than the enormous political pressure that would arise from both sides?

Folks, I'd love to know if this already exists and I'm reinventing the wheel, if I'm onto something, or if you think I'm full of it. Why not drop me a note and tell me what you think? - Anne

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