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Healthcare Philanthropy: It's Your Job

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, October 1, 2010

Still, that's not all of it. I'd also speculate that healthcare giving is down because of the relentless villainization of the current healthcare system, politically. Compared to insurers, hospitals have largely been left out of the political blame game for annual healthcare price increases that routinely double the rate of inflation, but they haven't escaped unscathed. Hospitals generally have been called out for inefficient practices and for focusing on the wrong goals during the national healthcare debate we've been having now for the better part of two years.

Further, members of the general public have a tendency to lump all of "healthcare" together in the same way that "the banks" or "irresponsible borrowers" are blamed for the recession. Health insurance costs so much because of the greedy doctors, hospitals, and insurers, or so that line of unsophisticated thinking goes.

Whatever the reasons, the downturn in charitable giving for nonprofit healthcare institutions is alarming.

"This downward trend is a very serious problem in the U.S." said Gregory Pope in the AHP statement announcing the decline. The chair of the AHP board and vice president of philanthropy for Saint Thomas Health Services Foundation here in Nashville, says the downturn "comes just as some in Congress want to make it difficult for taxpayers to earn deductions for their donations, and as healthcare reform puts new pressure on nonprofit hospitals to serve more patients."

Are you listening CEOs? That's the message you need to get out there. Regardless of whether you think healthcare reform legislation is long overdue or a giant boondoggle, it's going to put a dent in your revenues over time, and you need potential donors to understand that.

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1 comments on "Healthcare Philanthropy: It's Your Job"


Bogey (10/4/2010 at 9:48 AM)
Sadly, Mr. Betpeze missed an important point about why some choose not to donate to healthcare institutions, such as hospitals. While health insurers average a mere 3% profit (PriceWaterhouseCoopers 2008 study), some hospitals and their affiliated organizations continue to expand with elaborate ornate facilities, raising consumers' eyebrows. For the lay consumer watching what appears to them to be this extravagance in the middle of a healthcare debate calling for lowering cost, it shouldn't be surprising that they close their wallets when these same institutions come hat in hand asking for money. No, the institutions should start by cutting their cost, negotiating lower rates with insurers, and expanding more modestly with at least the appearance of frugality. Only then will many lay folks consider helping them out financially.