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Most NC hospitals are slim on charity care

The Charlotte Observer, April 24, 2012

Most North Carolina hospitals are devoting a fraction of their expenses to help the poor and uninsured, an investigation by The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer of Raleigh found. In 2010, most of the state's hospitals spent less than 3 percent of their budgets on charity care. In North Carolina, no government rules dictate how much charity care a nonprofit hospital must provide. Not even the IRS takes action. The result: A nonprofit hospital can spend virtually nothing on charity care and receive the same tax breaks as a hospital that sets aside as much as 10 percent of its budget to help the poor. The newspapers' findings raise questions about whether some hospitals are earning their nonprofit status, experts say.