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Comment & Response |

What Is a “Nonprofit” Hospital?

Donald S. Kornfeld, MD1
[+] Author Affiliations
1Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York
JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(8):1412. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.807.
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To the Editor The article “Compensation of Chief Executive Officers at Nonprofit US Hospitals” by Joynt et al1 is an important contribution to our understanding of how health care dollars are used. The authors found that median charity care and other community benefits comprised no more than 1.6% of hospital expenditures.1

This meager amount becomes even more startling when we become aware of the current Internal Revenue Service requirements to establish nonprofit tax-exempt status. Nonprofit hospitals are not required to provide “charity care.” Instead they are required to be “Organized and operated exclusively in furtherance of some purpose considered charitable in the generally accepted legal sense of the term.”2 Needless to say, “charitable” has been broadly defined.

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August 1, 2014
Karen E. Joynt, MD, MPH; Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH
1Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts2Department of Medicine, Cardiovascular Division, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts4The VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts
1Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts3Division of General Internal Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts4The VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(8):1412. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.804.
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