Non-profit hospitals under the gun

Non-profit hospitals have always faced pressure to account for where those tax-exempt dollars are going, but the last few years have been particularly brutal. Of late, many critics have suggested that non-profit hospitals should do more to prove that they deserve their tax exemption--and that logic may end up in the upcoming health reform bill.

Even if tax-exemption standards don't appear in the health reform package, it seems likely that non-profits will face some changes worth discussing in the near future. If nothing else, you can be pretty sure that Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who's been a tireless critics of how such breaks are handled at present, isn't ready to give up on regulating the industry. A Wall Street Journal piece from mid-2008 contending that the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center demanded $105,000 up front before it would treat one woman's cancer hasn't helped matters much, either.

Given these circumstances, at ANI the joint is likely to be jumping with discussion about non-profit hospitals and their tax status. Several sessions will address related topics, like how to properly complete Form 990's Schedule H. Schedule H is a new add-on to the standard non-profit reporting document designed to create a national standard for disclosing hospital community benefits, so everyone's still getting up to speed. As it has been in previous years, expect that session to be popular. (Hey, legislation comes and goes, but the IRS is already everyone's worst nightmare.)