Last month we examined the growing popularity of PILOTs across the U.S. Since that blog post, a firestorm has erupted over a recent investigative series sponsored by the News & Observer.
Reporters from the N&O examined the total value of charity care provided by some of NC’s top nonprofit hospitals, as well as how much each entity received in sales and NC property tax breaks and found that it’s debatable as to whether some of these entities are earning their nonprofit status.
The fault appears to lie in the loose regulations surrounding and defining charity care. NC nonprofit hospitals are allowed a tremendous amount of leeway in the amount of charity care they choose to provide.
The N&O sites figures such as Duke Medical Center’s seemingly paltry 3.3% budget allotment for charity care compared with Thomasville Medical Center’s more generous 13%.
As mentioned in last month’s article, this is a touchy issue on both sides of the equation.
Hospitals fired back, stating that the figures reported as Charity Care are lower than actual contributions. Bad debt, differences between Medicare reimbursement and actual provider costs, and the treatment of the uninsured, they say, is often absorbed by the hospital, though it isn’t specifically defined as charity care. They also argue that other factors such as staff time and effort spent training and volunteering at community health clinics are not factored in.
The debate is likely to remain a heated one and one that could quite easily turn into more scrutiny of nonprofit hospitals and the NC property tax breaks they receive.
Tell Us What You Think!
Is your county considering a PILOT program? Do you think it should?