Central Ohio nonprofit hospitals provide less charity care but tax breaks remain

Central Ohio's nonprofit hospitals provide increasingly less uncompensated care, calling into question the rationale for the hundreds of millions they receive each year in tax breaks, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

For the past several decades, tax breaks offset the hospitals' cost of caring for their low-income patient population, but the state's expansion of its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act has cut the nonprofit providers' amount of charity care nearly in half, according to an analysis by the newspaper. The four major nonprofit health systems serving central Ohio had a charity care burden of $107 million in the most recent fiscal year, a steep drop from $194 million two years prior, according to the article. Net community benefit, meanwhile, saw no significant change, coming in at $651 million.

While Ohio nonprofit hospitals aren't obligated to provide justification for tax breaks to continue receiving them, Mount Carmel and OhioHealth maintain they are still justified in accepting them due to net community benefit increases of $10 million and $20 million from two years ago, respectively, according to the article. OhioHealth in particular commissioned an independent review of its community benefit compared to its tax breaks. The review found the system's net community benefit was $279 million in fiscal 2015, compared to $183 million it received in tax breaks. The system's profit margins have also decreased; the system expects to continue maintaining an operating surplus, but down two percentage points from three years prior.

The analysis comes in the wake of reports that two Orlando, Florida, non-profit facilities receive tens of millions in tax exemptions despite purchasing numerous properties that provide no clinical services, FierceHealthFinance previously reported.

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