December 03, 2018

Doug Swill and Ken Vorrasi Discuss Community Benefit Programs in Modern Healthcare Article

Chicago partner Doug Swill and Washington, D.C. partner Ken Vorrasi were quoted in a Modern Healthcare article titled “Flaws in Reporting Create Knowledge Vacuum Regarding Community Benefits.”

As hospitals and health care systems continue to wrestle with the best ways to develop and implement community benefit programs, researchers, community leaders, and politicians struggle with finding ways to measure accurately the programs’ impact. The programs also raise considerable debate about issues such as tax breaks for hospitals. Doug commented on a 2012 Illinois law, recently upheld by the state’s Supreme Court, that requires hospitals to quantify their tax exemption and provide at least as much value in treating the poor. He noted that “[a] lot of times provisions in the law are not as clear, which invites litigation.” Doug also observed that, as a result,“[t]here is going to continue to be ongoing tension.”

Another challenge is how community-related activities and expenses are accounted for in tax filings, and thus used to evaluate their qualification for certain tax exemptions. Ken noted that strict benchmarks might not be viable, but that a hospital's size and scale could be considered, saying, “I don't see anything wrong with expecting more from those that are bigger and have the scale to do it.”

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