Could Nonprofit Hospitals Become an Endangered Species?

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , June 18, 2010

Regardless of what happens in our healthcare world, Congress will have to do something—really, several somethings—to raise revenue in the coming couple of decades. Certainly you've seen the aftermath of the debt crisis rocking European countries right now. Their method of easing the crisis is almost exclusively in instituting "austerity" measures that involve cutting back on the substantial individual benefits peculiar to the welfare state. The United States doesn't have that easy of an option. In the absence of quick and dirty austerity measures that have been instituted in Europe, stateside lawmakers might find that hospitals would make a sweet target as they have to spend less of their revenue on charity care and bad debt.

There are other attractive tax options for Congress too. They could start with the so called Bowl Championship Subdivision universities and their football conferences, all of whom have been acting, over the past several weeks, as though they share the charitable mission of Attila the Hun. They're "nonprofit" institutions too, after all.

The first rule of economics, a.k.a. "the dismal science," is that there's no free lunch. I'm afraid we're about to find out what that really means.

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Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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