Nonprofit Newswire | September 29, 2009

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FBI checking finances of nonprofit founded by Eggelletion
Sept 28, 2009;
Sun Sentinel | We at the Nonprofit Quarterly have always championed strong governance. Relying on best intentions and human nature rarely ensure transparency and accountability. So imagine our dismay when we read the linked article about an investigation of the Golf Oriented Leadership Foundation, a charity that encourages the game of golf to underprivileged youth. The foundation, which was founded by a local commissioner arrested recently for receiving bribes, has not been charged with any wrongdoing—yet. But its finances have come under Federal scrutiny, and the people who should have been paying attention were asleep at the wheel. “I wasn’t really paying attention to what the revenues were doing,” board member Dwight Reynolds told the Sun Sentinel. The paper goes on to report that Reynolds admitted “he was often too busy to attend board meetings.” Good governance, anyone?—Timothy Lyster

Nonprofit Hospitals Need to Earn Their Exemptions
Sept 28, 2009; Taking Note | The compromise health reform bill that emerged from Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus may not survive the next phase of debate, with competing proposals from Senators Jay Rockefeller and Chuck Schumer offering different prescriptions for our national maladies.  Rockefeller’s in particular returns to the “public option”, which Baucus basically eschewed.  Getting less attention than it merits is the Chairman’s mark language on nonprofit hospitals.  As we’ve noted here at NPQ, Baucus caved into the hospital lobby by eliminating a required minimum level of charity care, and he got the usually reliable hospital-criticizing Charles Grassley, his Republican leader counterpart, to go along with taking a dive on this.  The minimal requirements in the bill for nonprofit hospitals are embarrassing, especially as nonprofit hospitals continue to behave much like for-profits, both in terms of charity care and in shutting locations in poor neighborhoods compared to wealthy communities.  This blog from the Century Foundation is a reasonably solid review of the studies that show how nonprofit hospitals have done much less than what they should to earn their tax exemptions.  Sorry, but nonprofit hospitals increasingly aren’t.  Questioning the nonprofit behavior and bona fides of nonprofit hospitals isn’t being anti-nonprofit.  It does mean that the real nonprofit sector shouldn’t simply nod at those institutions hiding behind 501(c)(3) tax exempt status to function little like nonprofits.  Hopefully the next phase of health care reform legislation will redress this—and withstand the lobbying onslaught of the American Hospital Association.  —Rick Cohen


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