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RNs to Host San Leandro Town Hall on How to Hold Non-Profit Hospitals Accountable on Charity Care

Press Release, 6/22/12

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Elected leaders, nurses, and community members will speak out in a town hall meeting Friday in San Leandro to address an important question affecting the delivery of health care in California – are non-profit hospitals giving back to communities their fair share in exchange for their tax exemption?

Under discussion will be how to begin to rein in what many see are rampant abuses by private, not-for-profit hospitals, some of which have drawn growing criticism for how little they return to local communities while making huge profits and benefiting from favorable tax treatment.

What:     Community Town Hall Meeting on Hospital Charity Care

When:    Friday, June 22, 3 p.m.

Where:   San Leandro Senior Community Center

               13909 E. 14th Street, San Leandro

               (adjacent to San Leandro Hospital)


Speakers at the town hall meeting are expected to include California Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, nurses and community activists.

The problem, says the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United is that presently the state lacks common standards and hospitals are able to self-select, and all too often engage in shell games, what they claim to be charity care.

“Californians provide huge subsidies to these private, non-profit hospitals through a broad array of public services, they have a right to expect the hospitals fulfill their social obligation to provide appropriate levels of charity care and other community benefits in return,” says CNA co-president Zenei Cortez, RN.

Inconsistent data reported by tax exempt hospitals obscures the true economic value – or lack thereof—that communities receive in exchange for exempting these very profitable corporations from all state and local taxes.  

CNA calls this an unregulated system rife with abuse. A frequent scam by some non-profits is widely inflating charges for hospital care, especially for uninsured patients, then writing off as “charity care” whatever they do not collect from the patient.

Even under this scattershot system, some hospitals have been particularly notorious.

Sutter Health, which has been steadily reducing services it deems insufficiently profitable enough, all while recording over $4 billion in profits since 2005 despite its “non-profit” label, is a case study.

“Our communities could benefit from the tax revenue that Sutter Health and other hospital chains avoid.  It’s time to investigate hospital “non-profit” tax status,” said San Leandro RN Carol Barazi.

A report by the University of California Hastings College of Law last December found that Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center is San Francisco’s most profitable non-profit hospital yet spends far less proportionately on charity care than the city’s other private non-profit hospitals.

San Leandro where the town hall meeting will be held, has also been a flash point. Sutter has been making plans to close San Leandro Hospital despite promises to maintain a full service hospital for 20 years after acquiring the facility in 2004.

CNA charges that San Leandro, with its largely working class community and many lower income patients, fails to meet the profile of a wealthy community where “non-profit” Sutter would rather operate.

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