Many-splendored hospitals thing

“Hospitals get more than they give [says] study” is Sun-Times p-1 splash. 

Chicago area not-for-profit hospitals get three times as much money in tax breaks compared with what they dole out in free health care to poor and uninsured people, an analysis to be unveiled today shows.

Sounds bad, this unveiling.  And while “a nationwide debate rages,” never mind about what.  When debates rage, we better pay attention. 

There’s more.  The unveiled study has a finding that is “too out of whack,” never mind in what respect.  When a finding is out of whack, we better pay attention, especially when the state’s attorney general says so.  (And let’s hear it for her flack, who scores big a lot with female reporters, LORI RACKL Health Reporter in this instance.

The AG wants hospitals “to fork over more free care.”  (Thus Rackl.)  If they don’t, she will take away their tax exemption.  In other words, the long arm of the AG will reach out and smack you.  Yes.

“Hospital trade groups staunchly disagree,” however, noting among other considerations that “Service Employees International Union, which has been a thorn in hospitals' sides because of their efforts to unionize workers” PAID FOR THE STUDY [upper case added].

What do you know about that?  Seventh paragraph.  Now we have it: lib Dem AG, relying on continued union support, puffs UNION-MADE STUDY [upper case added].  Now is it beyond the pale for the UNION-MADE part to be mentioned higher up, even IN THE LEDE?

What follows is a hospitals-union mouth fight, always a good show, and an analysis of the study BY THE PEOPLE WHO DID THE STUDY.  They have a name, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, which is characterized not at all but is located: “Chicago-based.”

And its executive director writes for, guess what, The Sun-Times:

CTBA's executive director, Ralph Martire, writes a regular column for the Chicago Sun-Times, that also appears in the Springfield State Journal Register, and the Joliet Herald News. Read Mr. Martire's most recent column: "'No new tax" pledges just put state deeper in debt,"

says the study-doers’ web site.  Fancy that!

And while you’re at it, here’s what the hospitals are saying today:

Report Acknowledges Hospitals Provide Community Benefits More Than Five Times Their Tax-Exempt Value
Tuesday May 30, 9:35 am ET
Leading hospital associations blast report's motive and methodology

And the study-doers are in the fray on their own [but Sun-Times got it first, thanks probably to the Martire connection]:

Tax Breaks for Cook County's Non-Profit Hospitals Triple Amount Spent on Charity Care, New Study Finds

5/30/2006 11:29:00 AM

And the beat goes on, in this case health and medicine.

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