It’s the question we’ve all been asking. Does UPMC meet the standard for institutions of purely public charity? The City of Pittsburgh thinks not.
Pittsburgh – Today, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, flanked by elected representatives from the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the Pennsylvania General Assembly, faith leaders and UPMC patients, announced the City of Pittsburgh is filing legal challenges to UPMC’s tax exemptions. UPMC is the largest beneficiary of charitable tax exemptions in both the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. All told, UPMC’s tax-breaks cost tax payers an estimated $204 million dollars in federal, state and local taxes in 2011.
UPMC, the region’s largest private landowner, employer, healthcare provider and recipient of charitable tax exemptions, has attracted increasing scrutiny into the validity of its status as a charitable organization.
Stakeholders from all over the region have questioned UPMC’s aggressive and predatory business practices, its vast tax-exempt property empire, and the closing of hospitals in underserved areas. In January, UPMC settled over 80 charges of violations of Federal labor law with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after a seven-month long investigation into allegations of a hostile anti-union campaign. And just last week, UPMC told subscribers of a rival insurance company they could no longer see their UPMC doctors – even if they wanted to pay for care out of pocket.
“It has become clear to me that UPMC is not acting like a real charity. We can all see that. To say otherwise really strains credulity. Does a charity turn away patients because they have the “wrong” insurance card? Does a real charity make multi-millionaires of its executives? Does a real charity keep many of its employees living in poverty? Does a real charity put its mission to serve the community aside in the interest of making billions of dollars?” said Reverend David Thornton. “Our common sense tells us no. Our laws tell us no. Our city is taking a principled stand against its Goliath by filing this challenge and we must all make sure we sound our support loud and clear so the City continues to keep this issue is at the top of our community’s agenda.”
“I’m really proud of the City of Pittsburgh today. As a worker at UPMC, I know first hand how hard it can be to stand up to UPMC – inside the hospital and out. But we’ve seen what we can do when we stand together at work,” said Jamie Hopson, a patient care tech at UPMC Montefiore and nursing student. “Now we’re going to stand together with our patients, neighbors, friends and families to win a victory for our whole community.”