Nonprofit Newswire | September 18, 2009

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Top Ten Non-profit Governance Mistakes (From a Lawyer’s Perspective)
Sept 12, 2009; Charity Lawyer | Some people might find the ubiquity of do’s and don’ts lists to be obnoxious, but we like them. This one from a Phoenix, Arizona, lawyer has some useful tips about the functional problems of nonprofit boards and in some cases the boards and the EDs and founders. Too bad that so often, when people read these lists, denial is the word of the day, the lists apply to some other nonprofits. In truth, we need to get past some of the mythology of nonprofit boards and realize that probably all of them have some dysfunctional parts that warrant repair and replacement.—Rick Cohen

Grassley Welcomes Non-profit Hospital Provisions in Chairman’s Health Care Reform Bill [PDF]
Sept 17, 2009; U.S. Senate Committee on Finance (Press Releases) | The Baucus compromise plan for health care reform lets nonprofit hospitals off the hook on charity care. Senator Max Baucus’s position was no surprise, as the Committee’s frequent investigations of nonprofit hospital charity care expenditures were from Senator Chuck Grassley, not his Democratic counterpart. For Grassley to back off the idea that nonprofit hospitals would be required to meet a 5% charity care requirement, it was a big surprise. Grassley gave himself some wiggle room by saying he is going to work with the IRS to find a better formula for maximizing charity care by nonprofit hospitals (there’s going to be a big need for charity care given the millions of people who will still lack health insurance given the inadequate definitions of “universal” in the current health care reform bills, not to mention uninsured people like undocumented immigrants who will be left on the health care curb). But what was particularly disappointing is that he sounded like private foundations arguing against a minimum payout requirement—in fact, he cited the foundations in his argument against the percentage charity care requirement: “I agree with groups such as the Catholic Health Association, that a percentage pay-out requirement would become a ceiling, not a floor, like the private foundation pay-out of generally 5 percent.” A little history is in order here: Foundation payout before the 5% payout minimum was less than 5%. If the concern is that 5% is too low, then raise it. Don’t let foundations—or hospitals—off the hook. Hopefully, Senator Grassley will remember his stellar, sharp-eyed critiques of nonprofit hospitals during the past few years and the pathetic charity care excuses offered by the hospital sector lobbyists.—Rick Cohen


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