Hospitals Dispute Charity Care Report

May 31, 2006

Illinois hospitals are fighting a report that concludes some of them aren't providing enough charity care.

The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability claims Cook County and Illinois get bilked when it comes to charity care. It claims Chicago area non-profit hospitals get about $300 million in tax breaks. But those same hospitals return just $100 million in free health care each year.

The Illinois Hospital Association disputes those figures. Spokesperson Danny Chun says hospitals do qualify for tax exemptions and the courts agree.

"They do not say it's the amount or quantity of charity care, it is whether the charity care is available to those who need it and apply for it," he says.

The report couldn't come at a worse time for the state's hospital groups. Right now, they're working out a deal with Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Hospitals want to head off legislation that would force them to provide more charity care, or lose their tax breaks.