Yale New Haven Hospital makes significant community contributions, but local leaders want more help

Hospital lobby
New Haven community leaders would like to see Yale New Haven Hospital invest more in the local area. (Getty/monkeybusinessimages)

Yale New Haven Hospital's reputation took a hit about a decade ago when reports revealed that the organization harassed low-income patients over unpaid medical bills. Since then, the organization has made significant investments in the local community. But some local leaders don't believe it has done enough. 

Leaders in the New Haven, Connecticut, community told Politico that the hospital's investments don't offset the millions in taxes that it would pay if not for its status as a nonprofit facility. The problem, according to the article, is that while federal tax law does require nonprofit hospitals to engage in charity care, guidelines for what they need to do are limited. 

This issue isn't only a problem in New Haven. People in poor communities around other big-name teaching hospitals, like the Cleveland ClinicJohns Hopkins and Mayo Clinic, have also expressed similar concerns.

Since it was revealed in 2003 that the hospital had seized a poor patient's bank account and put a lien on his home over unpaid medical bills, Yale New Haven Hospital has spent millions of dollars on free clinics and charity care and invested in housing programs and college scholarships, according to Politico.

Despite those investments, executives at the hospital earn millions in salary, and it posted $460 million in revenue for 2016. CEO Marna Borgstrom told the publication it's crucial for large nonprofits like Yale New Haven to accrue cash reserves, as healthcare is an unpredictable industry. 

But local leaders want to see more. Martin Looney, president pro tempore of the Connecticut senate, who represents New Haven, said that though the hospital is light-years from where it was a decade ago, leaders can still improve and "expand their commitment"—for example, to do more for diabetes, which is prevalent in the city. 

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Despite concerns from the local community, Yale New Haven has earned recognition for its efforts in the community. For example, last year it was selected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as one of 32 healthcare organizations to pilot a payment program to bridge the gaps between providers and community groups.