Union nurses at a Detroit Medical Center hospital charge that Tenet Healthcare Corp. has violated the terms of its 2013 purchase of DMC. They say charity care has dropped 98% since 2013 at four DMC hospitals.
A report from the nurses says charity care fell to $470,000 in 2016 for those hospitals from $22.9 million in 2013.
During the same period in 2016, Southfield, Mich.-based Beaumont Health, which operates eight hospitals in metro Detroit, spent more than $26 million on charity care, and six-hospital Henry Ford Health System based in Detroit spent more than $19 million, according to the study released Wednesday by the Michigan Nurses Association at Michigan United headquarters in Detroit.
Hospitals generally have seen charity care decline because more patients are insured because of the Affordable Care Act. The figures in the union report are based on statistics from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and were independently verified by Crain's and a third-party expert.
Because the uninsured rate dropped in Michigan to about 6% from 12%, charity care cost provision has also declined at Beaumont by 67% and Henry Ford by 65% during that same 2013-16 period.
"If you calculate it per bed, Henry Ford spent more than $13,300 per bed on charity care, Beaumont more than $8,700 and DMC spent $454 per bed," said Sara Wallenfang, associate executive director with the Michigan Nurses Association.
"Wealthy executives from Texas (where Tenet is based) are slamming the door on low-income citizens of Detroit. Tenet DMC's decision to slash the resources available for patients in need of health care is unconscionable — and unacceptable."