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Charity care questioned

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Charity care questioned

In the news story “Mayor proposes 30 percent tax rate decrease because of reassessment” (Jan. 15 and TribLIVE.com), UPMC spokeswoman Susan Manko claims “UPMC last year provided nearly $250 million in charity care for which taxpayers otherwise would have paid.” UPMC may want to get its story straight.

UPMC gives one figure to its bondholders — when it is trying to portray itself as efficient — then exaggerates the same number when talking to the press about how charitable it is.

On Page 10 of UPMC's financial statements for the year ended June 30, 2012 ( upmc.com/about/finances/Documents/2012-audited-financials.pdf), UPMC states that it provided $96.2 million in charity care — not $250 million. And Page 3 shows it had more than $5.3 billion in patient revenues. Do the math: UPMC's charity-care costs were less than 2 percent of its patient revenues.

To claim $250 million, UPMC appears to include some expenses associated with Medicaid patients, since Medicaid tends to pay less than commercial insurers. But many for-profit health care providers also bear these costs. Unlike UPMC, these for-profit providers are not exempt from property taxes.

We should press UPMC to meet its community obligations, but if it doesn't, it should be taxed to provide funds for the vital needs of our community.

Geoff Webster

Shadyside

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