Hospitals push back on Lown Institute community benefits study

Hospitals are pushing back on a report released July 12 by nonpartisan healthcare think tank the Lown Institute that examines the amount hospitals spend on community benefits. 

The report found that 72 percent of the country's private nonprofit hospitals had a fair-share deficit in 2018, meaning they spent less on charity care and community investment than they received in tax exemptions. 

The American Hospital Association, which represents nearly 5,000 hospitals in the U.S., said the report fails to account for several key community benefits that hospitals offer. 

"By cherry-picking categories of community investment while ignoring others, such as researching lifesaving treatments and cures and training and educating the next generation of caregivers, the report overlooks many essential contributions hospitals make to their communities that are critically important, especially during the pandemic," said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the hospital association. 

Hospitals have many uncompensated and unreimbursed costs, including absorbing underpayments from Medicaid and some Medicare expenses as "a touchstone of tax exemption," the hospital lobby stated.

"America's hospitals and health systems do more than any other part of the healthcare field to support vulnerable patients: Our doors are always open, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay," Mr. Pollack said.

The hospital association said that hospitals have provided more than $702.5 billion in uncompensated care to patients since 2000. 

Read the full AHA statement here.

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