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California Lawmakers, Nurses Take a Hard Look at Charity Care at Non-Profit Hospitals

California lawmakers and nurses are taking a hard look at charitable health care provided by hospitals with non-profit tax status.

Different hospitals have different practices when it comes to care for those who have trouble paying. For example, a patient may get free care in one hospital, but be charged at another.

At least, that’s what a recent report from the California State Auditor suggests.

Democratic State Senator Ellen Corbett chaired a committee this week that is looking into creating standards for the tax exempt status.

“I sincerely believe that if someone receives the privilege of tax exempt status that we should be ensuring that the public benefit is actually occurring, that charity care is actually available.”

Jan Emerson-Shea from the California Hospital Association says the law allows non-profit hospitals to provide charity based on their assessment of community need.

“Comparing hospitals in San Francisco to a hospital in the Central Valley is really not a relevant comparison because the needs in the central valley are going to be very different than the needs in San Francisco.”

A nurses union rallying outside the Capitol said tax benefits to California’s non-profit hospitals exceed the care they give out.