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The Dearth of Charity Care

Do Nonprofit Hospitals Deserve Their Tax Exemptions?

By Valerie McWilliams & Alan A. Alop

Low-income patients' medical debt has devastating consequences, yet the amount of charity care that hospitals offer is minimal. The Illinois Supreme Court, in Provena Covenant Medical Center v. Department of Revenue, upheld the denial of a tax exemption to a nonprofit hospital because of the minimal charity care that the hospital offered; rather than categorizing unpaid bills as charity care, the hospital engaged in aggressive collection practices. Challenges to nonprofit hospitals' tax exemptions may offer promising advocacy opportunities.

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