Credit crisis, IRS changes affect hospital finances (#ahcj09)

If ever there was a time to dig into your local hospital’s finances, this is it, Karl Stark told journalists Friday morning.

The Internal Revenue Service has made the first significant change to its 990 form in 30 years, providing more details about charity care and community benefits.

“And there are all these financial pressures coming down on hospitals this year,” said Stark, health and science editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. That may result in a new wave of closures and mergers.

“One of the issues that has been undercovered, in my opinion, is the effect of the credit meltdown on hospitals,” he said.

During a presentation at Health Journalism 2009, Stark provided advice on how to demystify the financial numbers.

Sandy Kleffman of the Contra Costa Times writes about some key points from Stark’s presentation.

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