ProPublica: For Nonprofit Hospitals Who Sue Patients, New Rules

ProPublica: For Nonprofit Hospitals Who Sue Patients, New Rules

Nonprofit hospitals get big tax breaks for providing care for patients who can’t afford it. Under new IRS rules these hospitals must take extra steps to inform poor patients they may qualify for financial assistance.

By Paul Kiel

Last month, ProPublica and NPR detailed how one nonprofit hospital in Missouri sued thousands of lower income workers who couldn’t pay their bills, then seized their wages, all while enjoying a big break on its taxes.

Hospitals that don’t take these steps before suing patients could face the ultimate penalty of losing their tax-exempt status.

That sounds clear enough. But the first catch is that the IRS does not have a history of aggressive enforcement.

“That’s always been the problem with the charitable hospital rules,” said Corey Davis, an attorney with the National Health Law Program, a nonprofit patient advocacy organization. “The IRS doesn’t enforce them and nobody else can enforce them.” Read the full article here. »

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