Case study: Another battle over charity care

Here's another example of the issues hospitals are confronting as scrutiny mounts over charity care. This time it's publicly-funded healthcare system JPS Health Network of Fort Worth, TX, which is facing questions from at least one community activist and the local medical society over its charity claims. Commissioners in Tarrant County, which funds the hospital district with property taxes, got a withering letter from critic Ann Sutherland this week vigorously challenging the hospital's charity care claims. Despite having substantial indigent care obligations, the network has still managed to accumulate a surplus of almost $200 million, funneling the money partly into a 108-bed expansion of its John Peter Smith Hospital. Sutherland and others accuse JPS of emphasizing insured patients over the indigent.

JPS has said that it provided $75 million in charity care above and beyond what the county kicked in. At the same time, however, the hospital received roughly $279 million in disproportionate share funding and $20.8 million from a tobacco settlement. The hospital argues that it can't afford to spend such money as though it will always be coming in the door. Still, critics of the hospital would like to see it get less tax income from the county, while still expanding its indigent care services.

To find out more about the controversy:
- read this Fort Worth Star-Telegram article

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