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August 02, 2016

Charity Care at Pa. Hospitals Lags Behind Other States

Free care to low-income patients amounted to less than 1 percent of revenue at nearly two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s hospitals in 2014, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, citing data that medical centers provided to the state agency that monitors health-care costs.

The state’s 170 hospitals provided charity care worth average 1.19 percent of revenue in 2014, according to the figures from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. One hundred seven were under the 1 percent threshold, and charity care at 39 institutions amounted to less than a quarter of 1 percent of revenue. Data collected over four years by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid ranks Pennsylvania among the lowest nine states in charity care, with rates below all six of its neighboring states.

The Post-Gazette analysis found that many wealthier hospitals provide far less free treatment than financially struggling institutions nearby and that charity care dropped at nonprofit hospitals that became for-profit as a result of mergers and sales. Pennsylvania’s low overall rate surprised experts because the state is one of the few that has no government-funded acute-care hospitals, which, where they operate, provide much of the treatment for the uninsured.