News Roundup: Pittsburgh Challenges UPMC’s Charitable Tax Exemptions

Seems like everyone’s talking about the city’s decision to stand up to UPMC. It’s great to see so many people agreeing that if UPMC wants the benefits of being a charity, it needs to start acting like one.

Here‘s some of the best coverage:.

Mayor v. Moneybags: UPMC could be beloved if it put patients over profits and perks – Sally Kalson
“It’s based on the correct impression that a nonprofit hospital’s top priority should be the patients, not building a monopoly. And that a $10 billion system with a billion-dollar surplus and $2 billion to $3 billion in reserves should be taking care of many more indigent sick people than UPMC has been treating — especially when it owns land that a Post-Gazette investigation valued at $1.6 billion, even as it enjoys a $20-million tax break every year, underwritten by the good citizens of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. “

Profit motive: The city’s UPMC suit will turn on one key factor – Post-Gazette
It is also known for its bitter public dispute with another health-care giant, Highmark, which wants to partner with the West Penn Allegheny Health System, a rival hospital network. UPMC does not want to renew its contract after 2014 with the region’s dominant insurance provider, meaning Highmark customers will lose in-network access to most UPMC services.

UPMC considers all that merely a consequence of competition. The community, by and large, sees it as a double-cross to the people and region whose donations, health premiums and tax dollars built UPMC.

 Ravenstahl pledges challenge to UPMC’s tax-exempt status – Moriah Balingit

The mayor cited UPMC’s closure of hospitals in low-income communities, like Braddock, in favor of building hospitals in more affluent communities and facilities abroad. He also talked about the company’s hard stand with rival Highmark insurance, some of whose customers have been denied care in UPMC’s facilities.

Ravenstahl: Pittsburgh sues to remove UPMC’s tax-exempt status – Jeremy Boren and Bobby Kerlik
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said city taxpayers should not subsidize the $10 billion hospital system that has fueled UPMC’s rise as Pennsylvania’s largest employer and the region’s richest nonprofit organization.

UPMC doesn’t exactly smell like a nonprofit – Eric Heyl

Ravenstahl referred to the self-described $10 billion global health enterprise’s funhouse mirror insistence that it is a public charity, a legitimate nonprofit entity. The mayor tossed a large rock toward that mirror by announcing the city is legally challenging UPMC’s tax-exempt status; shattering it could net the city $20 million annually.

City of Pittsburgh v. UPMC: Necessary lawsuits – Trib-Review

UPMC was quick to spin the City of Pittsburgh’s legal challenge of its tax-exempt status as a vendetta fueled by politicians doing the bidding of organized labor and business interests. It’s a smokescreen, of course. And rationalizations of such grand conspiracies can’t hide the fact the “nonprofit” claims of this $10 billion worldwide hospital behemoth are ripe for vetting in a court of law.

 UPMC, Pittsburgh stake positions for court fight on nonprofit status – Sean D. Hamill

Mr. Strassburger cites UPMC’s own documents and officials’ statements that show that UPMC may be providing charity care of anywhere from $204 million, or 3.6 percent of net patient revenues, to $87.2 million, or under 1 percent.

Community Blues – UPMC finally feels our pain – Chris Potter

But Ravenstahl’s press conference wasn’t a complete disaster. The media completely ignored UPMC’s most damning critic: Brookline resident Kendra Bowser.

While the politicians talked about CEO pay and the cost of UPMC’s tax exemptions, Bowser was more succinct: “I’m no longer permitted to see the doctors who have been able to give me the ability to live my life,” she told reporters.

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