Updates on regulatory risks

Because everyone uses healthcare, regulators take a shot at the system from time to time to prove that they're paying attention. Still, things are particularly intense this year, with tax issues and financing questions looming larger than they have before. With tax exemptions for non-profit hospitals under scrutiny, the use of tax-exempt bonds being examined, endowment use being questioned, and the ongoing carnival of changes that is Medicare reimbursement, you'll see a fair amount of discussion at the show around agency rule-making.

Among hospital types, expect to see some furrowed brows over the impending Form 990, Schedule H, in which not-for-profit hospitals will report on their charitable activities to the IRS. Given that some Congressional hospital critics, like Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), have questioned whether some hospitals deserve not-for-profit status at all, filling out the Schedule H will be a high-stakes exercise. (As we've mentioned elsewhere, the June 25th educational session on how to cope with the new Form 990 is likely to be a standing-room-only affair.) Of course, the trade show exhibit floor will feature quality time with consultants like Grant Thornton, who are offering to help with the problem, too.

While you're at the show you may also wish to check out the buzz on what's happening in patient collections in your colleagues' home states--as it seems that state legislatures are pretty interested in how hospitals deal with uninsured and self-pay patients. In Illinois , for example, the legislature is considering a bill that would set limits on what hospitals would be allowed to charge and collect from some uninsured patients. And the Minnesota legislature recently passed a bill (later vetoed by the governor) that would have banned providers from collecting, using or sharing medical debt information to qualify patients prior to providing elective services.  It seems likely that other states are going to get involved in these issues in coming months, too.