IL hospital must prove community benefit, or else

Of late, state and federal regulators have been challenging non-profit hospitals to prove they deserve their tax exemption. Hospital associations, health systems and individual facilities have responded by aggressively touting their estimates of the community benefit and levels of uncompensated care that they provide.

This exercise is important for all U.S. non-profits, but there's even more at stake for Mokena, Ill.-based Provena Health. The Catholic hospital chain has been fighting to keep its state property tax exemption in the face of claims it hadn't done enough. State's Department of Revenue Director Brian Hamer contends Provena Covenant Medical Center's 2002 charity care level, which he said represented less than 1 percent of its revenue, wasn't enough to merit its tax exemption. The Champaign County Board of Review pulled the property tax exemption in 2003, arguing the facility had been too aggressive in collecting money from indigent patients.

This year, Provena hopes to turn perceptions around. The chain says its community benefit efforts had $61.7 million in total impact on the 750,000 people served by its six hospitals and affiliated facilities. That includes $17 million in free care, $38.9 million in "non-reimbursed" services to Medicaid patients and $5.7 million in community services, hospital officials said. Now, let's see how this report goes down. If officials don't buy it, Provena could be in worse trouble.

To find out more about Provena's situation:
- read this Chicago Tribune piece

Related Articles:
Chicago voluntary hospitals face tax-exemption loss. Report
VHA: Charity policy must come from the top. Report
PwC: Time to prove community benefit. Report
Catholic Health Association proposes a new benefit standard for voluntary hospitals. Report

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