Oregon bill would set community benefit spending minimum for tax-exempt hospitals

Kelly Gooch - Print  | 

A proposal from Oregon lawmakers would require nonprofit hospital systems to defend their tax-exempt status by providing a set amount of community benefit, the bill's supporters told Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Nonprofit hospitals offer community benefits, such as providing financial assistance to patients, and in turn are tax-exempt. But as the ACA increased the number of insured people, a number of hospitals are spending less on free or discount care provided to low-income patients.

Now state Rep. Andrea Salinas, D-Lake Oswego, and other Oregon political leaders hope to force changes to bring more clarity regarding nonprofit hospitals' community benefit spending.

Under House Bill 3076, the state's nonprofit hospitals would be required to meet with the Oregon Health Authority — a state agency overseen by the Oregon Health Policy Board, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. The agency would then assign a minimum community benefit spending amount.

According to the report, Ms. Salinas said the legislation also would limit the interest that hospitals and collection agencies are allowed to charge.

Sean Kolmer, with the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, told Oregon Public Broadcasting hospitals have no issue with establishing a minimum for financial assistance but are unsure about the requirement to meet with the Oregon Health Authority to decide community benefit.

 

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