News organization sues 8 Indiana hospitals for withholding public spending data

IndyStar sued eight Indiana hospitals for allegedly violating state records laws by withholding information on how they are spending public funding they've received for their nursing homes, IndyStar reported Aug. 10. 

Tony Cook, the IndyStar investigative journalist who filed the complaint in court, alleges that Greenfield, Ind.-based Hancock Regional Hospital; Danville, Ind.-based Hendricks Regional Health;New Castle, Ind.-based Henry Community Health; Franklin, Ind.-based Johnson Memorial Health; Shelbyville, Ind.-based Major Health Partners; Rushville, Ind.-based Rush Memorial Hospital; Lebanon, Ind.-based Witham Health Services and Noblesville, Ind.-based Riverview Health are "preventing the public from knowing how their tax dollars are being spent." 

The complaint comes after Mr. Cook sent a public records request in 2021 to 20 Indiana hospitals to ask for information on how much of the supplemental Medicaid  funding they had received was going toward nursing home care. The supplemental funds are only available to government-owned facilities and are based on how many Medicaid-eligible residents a health system has in its nursing homes.

Twelve hospitals shared those amounts; however, eight of the hospital systems named in IndyStar's lawsuit declined to provide the records. 

According to the report, the health systems said the requested information contained trade secrets or competitive information. 

The health systems also said disclosing the amount of money they spend on their nursing homes could allow other county hospitals to poach the private management companies they use to operate the facilities.   

Together, those hospitals own more than 250 of the state's 527 nursing homes.

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