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Report: Nonprofit hospitals in NY put profits before patients

  • / Updated:
  • Edwin Viera 

A review of nonprofit hospitals in New York found they are more concerned with making money than patient care.

According to a survey of more than 2,000 hospitals nationwide, only 6 of 101 New York hospitals reviewed complied with federal regulations requiring all hospitals to post prices online, as well as making them easily accessible.

Donna Christensen, a board member of Consumer for Quality Care, noted some people delay care because of such factors. She described what needs to be done to ensure nonprofit hospitals start improving.

“Hospitals need to adhere to the requirements, by law, that the IRS has placed on them for their tax benefits to provide that care,” Christensen asserted. “And to make sure that they are able to show where they have spent some of their savings on providing charity care.”

A bill to begin holding nonprofit hospitals accountable was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2022. Additional information from the Lown Institute Hospital’s Index found New York hospitals have a “fair share deficit” of more than $1.6 billion, by taking in tax breaks far more than what they spent on community benefits and charity care for low-income patients.

Christensen noted nonprofit hospitals are required to work with low-income patients to ensure they can afford care. But data from the Rand Corporation, finds patients with private insurance are charged 301% more on average than Medicare patients.

She argued nonprofit hospitals know what they are supposed to do, but it comes down to a matter of actually doing it.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

“Some of them would spend some of that money on creating new entities or services that provide more income, or increasing the salaries of their executives and not fulfilling their obligations to the lower income and more needy people in their community,” Christensen explained.

She noted predatory medical debt collection tactics by nonprofit hospitals also need to be regulated. According to the Community Service Society’s Discharged in Debt report, 112 nonprofit hospitals sued more than 53,000 patients across the state, between 2015 and 2020.

In 2022, two bills were signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul to ban medical liens and wage garnishment, and to regulate the billing of facility fees.