Methodist Le Bonheur defies IRS rules by failing to publicize financial assistance policies: ProPublica

Memphis, Tenn.-based Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare may be breaking regulations put in place by the IRS for nonprofit organizations, according to an investigation by ProPublica and MLK50.

The IRS requires nonprofit hospitals to publicly post policies related to financial assistance for patients to see, even in their emergency rooms. However, ProPublica reporters who visited five Methodist ERs in Shelby County from May 28 to June 1 could not find signs on the walls detailing eligibility for financial assistance.

When ProPublica reporters visited a Methodist ER on June 26, paper copies of Methodist's financial assistance policy were taped to the wall in English and Spanish next to permanent plaques. The documents were not present when a reporter first visited the ER, according to ProPublica.

The visits came as MLK50 and ProPublica investigate how Methodist collects debt from its patients. The health system filed more than 8,300 lawsuits against patients from 2014 through 2018, according to Shelby County General Sessions Court records cited by ProPublica.

Methodist did not respond to ProPublica's questions about whether the information for financial assistance was publicized in its ERs or whether it was in violation of IRS tax laws.

In an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review, a Methodist spokesperson said, "We are dedicated to strengthening the communities we serve and improving the well-being of patients and families, and that commitment is demonstrated through our actions. Our organization provides more healthcare community benefit than any other health system in the region — over $226 million annually. We work with all patients in need of financial assistance and our processes are consistent with those of other non-profit healthcare providers."

To view Methodist's full response to ProPublica, click here.

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