The Internal Revenue Services push to expand public reporting by not-for-profit hospitals would require too much, too soon from tax-exempt hospitals, and regulators should delay new disclosure rules until 2010, the American Hospital Association said in a letter to the agency.
The comments, filed with the IRS, sharply criticized an add-on questionnaire for tax-exempt hospitals that federal officials introduced in June as part of proposed changes to the Form 990, a tax form widely used by not-for-profits to report how operations and spending justify certain tax breaks. A 90-day period for public comment on the changes closes Sept. 14. If adoptedperhaps as early as fiscal 2008the proposed rules would set a federal standard for how to tally and report community benefits, a sweeping term used for the care, services or education that hospitals subsidize.
The Chicago-based trade group said new hospital reporting includes unnecessary questions or seeks information that could mislead or confuse instead of inform those using the document for oversight or information. Hospitals would also experience extraordinary burdens to collect necessary data to meet proposed requirements, the AHA said. The letter also urged the IRS to include two expenses, losses from Medicare and bad debt, omitted from its proposed tally of community benefits. -- by Melanie Evans