April 12, 2010; PR Newswire | If there’s any surprise contained in the announcement on Monday from the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) warning about state and local governments actions to strip nonprofit hospitals of their tax-exempt status, it’s “What took them so long?”

In its news release, AHP President and CEO William C. McGinly, Ph.D., CAE says: “Nonprofit hospitals and health care organizations are having their tax exempt status questioned and eliminated by state and local governments seeking any source of additional funds no matter who is hurt in the long run.” The AHP claims that the threat to the tax exempt status is due to the fact that too few Americans and legislators really know about community benefits these groups provide. Or as McGinly said, they “equate it to charity or indigent care alone.”

In its statement, the AHP, says these additional benefits include: no or discounted fees to uninsured, under-insured, low-income or medically indigent patients; providing unprofitable health care services such as trauma care, burn care and outreach to primary care and preventive services; supporting and participating in community-wide health planning efforts; and making donations to other nonprofit organizations in the community.

While we can sympathize with the concerns raised about the threats to nonprofit hospitals, we also think it’s important to note that from what we’ve reported here, no one is taking these actions lightly and often state and local lawmakers are given full warning by the organizations that will be hurt about how any funding cuts, additional levies or change in tax status will only make it harder—if not impossible—for them to do their jobs when more and more people are asking for help.—Bruce Trachtenberg