Hospitals Need to Earn Their Tax-Exempt Status

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From STAT: Many of the country’s most profitable and prominent hospitals enjoy tax-exempt status even though they often fail to meet the health needs of their surrounding communities.

“The irony is that a majority of the most prominent and profitable hospitals in the United States are nonprofit, and have fought tooth and nail to maintain that status even as their revenues have skyrocketed. When it comes to marketing themselves, nonprofit hospitals, many of which are academic medical centers, take no prisoners, and appear to be more interested in driving up profits than improving health. Most services advertised by academic medical centers are for unproven or cosmetic procedures that generally lack a strong evidence base and are rarely accompanied by appropriate disclosures. They tend to tout the benefits but soft-shoe the risks. A content analysis of advertisements from National Cancer Institute-designated centers showed that they focused on emotional manipulation even more than for-profit hospitals did, and rarely discussed the risks of treatment. When hope doesn’t work, hospitals are quick to invoke fear.”

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