Grassley wants to establish a universal representation of what should constitute a not-for-profit hospital, threatening to revoke the tax-exempt status of those who don't qualify under the new metric.
We have nothing against accountability and support the American Hospital Association's call for hospitals to “voluntarily, publicly and proactively report to their communities on the full value of benefits” they provide. But let's remember that the IRS intentionally made the requirements vague to allow not-for-profit hospitals to meet the demands of not only their local communities but of a changing healthcare system. It is this very attribute of ultimate local accountability—to be nimble without the involvement of Washington or bureaucratic machinery—that allows not-for-profits to do the most good for the most people.
It is everyone's role to keep the spirit of not-for-profit healthcare alive. For some, that means volunteering at their local institution or getting involved with board governance. Others contribute by advocating to their elected officials on the hospital's behalf or by giving financially. All of this is needed.
In the final analysis, not-for-profit hospitals do more than provide state-of-the-art healthcare. They make a difference in their communities while remaining true to their mission and basic principles. Regardless of weather, they forge ahead, and that's a quality that everyone—including those sitting on that bench in Kansas—should work hard to preserve, protect and defend.
Jane Haderlein is senior vice president for external affairs at Huntington Memorial Hospital, Pasadena, Calif.