Taxing, challenging times for non-profits
Illinois, like many states, has a short supply of revenue, and lawmakers struggle during budget time. State officials continue their search for money streams, and the Illinois Department of Revenue thinks it has found one.
It wants more hospitals to pay property taxes, and the state has a chance to set a precedent. The department rules that three hospitals no longer qualify for a property tax exemption. The Illinois Hospital Association protests the decision and says the state’s criteria for what makes a not-for-profit facility exempt are unclear. Officials from the three hospitals—edward Hospital in Naperville, Decatur (Ill.) Memorial Hospital and Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago—vow to appeal the decision.
Department of Revenue officials say that the hospitals don’t offer enough charity care, among other objections. But not so fast says Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn, after reading a letter submitted by the Illinois Hospital Association. Quinn asks the Department of Revenue to work with the hospitals to more clearly define the regulations before forcing them to pay taxes. The governor asks for the parties to continue working together for some kind of consensus by March.
The Roman Catholic healthcare community comes to grips with Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted’s decision to strip St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center of its status as a Catholic provider. St. Joseph loses its status as a result of an incident in November 2009, when hospital executives approved an abortion to save the life of an expectant mother who suffered from pulmonary hypertension. Hospital officials refuse to concede the act contradicted Roman Catholic moral teaching. A nun serving on the hospital’s ethics committee is excommunicated. The situation creates a rift among some Catholics, as the hospital said clinicians attempted to save both mother and child, but couldn’t.
Unsatisfactory labor negotiations fuel nurses to make their presences felt during the summer all across the country while joining fellow Occupy protesters. Nurses said they identify with the “99%.” At a protest in Chicago, police arrest two union nurses who tend to a first-aid station at a protest in Grant Park. The nurses and other protesters spend the night in jail after being charged with failure to vacate the park. That prompts union officials to question the tactics of city officials.
The proposed three-hospital merger in Kentucky involving the University of Louisville’s hospital and Ascension Health of St. Louis suffers through more than the usual scrutiny. Opponents offer the customary questions surrounding reproductive services pertaining to any deal involving a Catholic health provider. But then there’s a debate whether University Hospital is a public or private organization and if the facility should release financial documents, as Kentucky’s open records law mandates. With multiple lawsuits pending, it’s unclear how the merger will be affected.