Tag Archives: senate finance committee

Evaluation of nonprofits’ charity care continues

If you’re keeping a list of issues that have been rejuvenated through inclusion in the Baucus bill, you can safely add Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley’s crusade to keep nonprofit hospitals accountable for the provision of adequate amounts of charity care. According to the Chicago Tribune‘s Bruce Japsen, the proposed bill includes Grassley’s provision to “improve the community service, transparency and billing practices of nonprofit hospitals.”

From Japsen’s story:

“For now, there’s no minimum percentage requirement for charity care and community benefit,” Grassley said in a statement on Baucus’ proposal. But Grassley is not ruling out a required level in the future, saying it needs “more study.”

“I agree with groups that take their charitable mission seriously … that a percentage payout requirement would become a ceiling, not a floor, like the private foundation payout of generally five percent,” Grassley said in a memo Thursday. “Instead, we need a formula that would maximize expenditures for charitable purposes.”

The Washington Post‘s Kathleen Day, meanwhile, reported on the results of a Grassley-backed Senate investigation into the charity care provided by nonprofit hospitals:

The investigators found that while federal law requires charity care in exchange for tax-exempt status, a 37-year-old IRS rule implementing the law is so vague that nonprofit hospitals have been able to exploit it by offering some free services but often little aid to the poorest people in their communities.

Nonprofits frequently charged higher prices to poorer people with no health insurance than they did to better-off patients who had coverage, researchers found. At the same time, many of the hospitals’ top executives enjoyed generous perks such as paid country club memberships and stays at expensive hotels.

Bloggers try to connect Baucus plan, WellPoint

An analysis by blogger Kevin Conner over at LittleSis seems to point to connections between Montana Sen. Max Baucus’ plan for health reform and insurance heavyweight WellPoint. While nothing has been set in stone, they are the sort of sprawling connections that should be explored and accounted for as the Baucus plan is evaluated, especially in light of the Senator’s well-documented financial connections to the health industry (Hat tip to NPR Health Blog‘s Scott Hensley).

Sen. Max Baucus

Sen. Max Baucus

A glance at the proposal’s Microsoft Word Metadata shows the name of Liz Fowler, a former WellPoint VP who now works for Baucus on the Senate Finance Committee. Furthermore, Wyoming Republican Sen. Mike Enzi’s former chief health adviser, Stephen Northrup, is now WellPoint’s top reform lobbyist. Enzi is a member of Baucus’ bipartisan “Gang of Six,” a group that helped shape the Healthy Future Act. It’s also interesting that, according to Conner, “key provisions in the Baucus plan apparently draw on industry-inspired legislation first introduced by Enzi in 2006, while Northrup was still his chief health aide.”

According to their Web site, “LittleSis is a project of Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit nonpartisan research and educational organization focused on government and corporate accountability.”

Baucus: 75-80% chance of health reform bill

The Hill‘s Jeffrey Young reports that Montana democrat and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus declared over breakfast that there was a 75 percent to 80 percent chance he would win support from both parties to pass a health reform bill in his committee next month.

Baucus feels that politicians on both sides are committed to finding a reform solution, Young reported, and that, while he said there was no draft bill yet and that everything was on the table, specific progress was being made toward a bill acceptable to all parties involved. Baucus said that while universal coverage might not be possible, the committee would work to cover as many folks as possible, perhaps 94 percent to 96 percent of the population.