By Consumers for Quality Care, on December 20, 2023
A recent opinion piece published in The New York Times by Dr. Amol S. Navathe, a Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and Co-Director of the Healthcare Transformation Institute, outlines how nonprofit hospitals have increasingly acted like for-profit entities over the years, arguing that these institutions should return to their mission of putting patients first.
Dr. Navathe asserts that many nonprofit hospitals have been bad actors, engaging in predatory debt collection practices, and failing to provide adequate charity care, all while receiving tax breaks amounting to $28 billon and paying executives exceedingly high salaries. Furthermore, executives have sought to expand profits by buying other hospitals in outside markets. The creation of these giant hospital systems is often bad news for consumers. Health care consolidation usually leads to fewer options for care and raises costs for consumers.
Dr. Navathe argues that to shift nonprofit hospitals’ concerns away from profits and toward serving consumers, there must be changes to how hospitals select those who serve on their boards of directors. Shifting the fundamental philosophy of these boards away from profits can help lead to the implementation of performance metrics that put greater emphasis on serving the community. Dr. Navathe also suggests that policymakers have a role to play by setting clearer outlines for measuring community benefits and challenging the tax exemptions for those nonprofits that fail to meet these standards.
CQC urges all hospitals, especially nonprofit hospitals, to better serve their communities and deliver care for patients when they need it most. CQC also urges lawmakers and regulators to ensure that nonprofit health systems are part of the solution to our country’s health care challenges – not part of the problem.