Hospitals Seek County's Support
Byline: James Fuller firstname.lastname@example.org
The value of the help local hospitals give to the community will go up against the value of property taxes hospitals could pay to Kane County taxing bodies in a new debate county board members will begin next month.
Elizabeth Lively of the Metropolitan Healthcare Council, a hospital association, lobbied county board members Tuesday night to side with local hospitals in a new fight to maintain tax-exempt status.
That status for all not-for-profit hospitals was put in jeopardy in August when the Illinois Department of Revenue said three hospitals -- including Naperville's Edward -- were not eligible for charity status because they provided less than 2 percent of their net patient income to free care.
That free care typically goes to the uninsured or underinsured, a population found in smaller numbers in more affluent areas.
On the surface, local hospitals coming onto the tax rolls would be financial windfalls for local taxing bodies, including schools and Kane County government. But Lively reminded county board members that local hospitals must find money to pay tax bills if their charity status vanishes --and that money would likely come from cutting services.
Lively said Kane County hospitals provide $73 million in free care for area residents. But that number doesn't include other costs the hospitals pick up to subsidize Medicare and Medicaid patients, or training for health care professionals. With nearly 6,000 employees, local hospitals represent the largest employers in the community, Lively said.
"This proposed change will undermine the safety net where all hospitals work together to ensure those who do not have insurance receive care," Lively said. …