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IL decision on hospital exemptions may be a signal

The News-Gazette, August 18, 2011

Nearly a decade has passed since Provena Covenant Medical Center first lost its property tax exemption, putting hospitals statewide on notice that charitable tax breaks have to be earned. Now, some say the Illinois Department of Revenue is signaling hospitals once again with its preliminary decision to deny property tax exemptions for three more hospitals in Illinois. "I think what it says to hospitals is they need to take a really serious look at their financial assistance programs and make sure their programs are accessible to all who need it," said Claudia Lennhoff, executive director of Champaign County Health Care Consumers. The revenue department said it didn't use a set standard to determine how much charity care the three hospitals had to meet, but Lennhoff said 3% of a hospital's net revenue — with some exceptions — should be the minimum. After reviewing reports from every hospital in the state, she said, she found almost 80% of Illinois hospitals provide less than 3% of their net revenue in charity care and nearly two-thirds of the state's hospitals are providing less than 2%.