Good and bad news in CT hospital fair share spending

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US non-profit hospitals receive federal, state, and local tax breaks totaling tens of billions of dollars. Taxpayers must pay more to cover those losses. In exchange, hospitals are expected to devote resources to improving their community’s health. Nonprofit hospitals must report their community benefit spending to the IRS. The Lown Institute has published their 2024 analysis of hospitals’ fair share deficits and surpluses.

In 2021, 80% of US nonprofit hospitals had fair share deficits, totaling $25.7 billion. Hospital fair share deficits (or surpluses) are the amount of their tax exemption exceeded (or lagged) their spending on meaningful community health investments. Despite evidence that Social Determinants of Health are critical to promoting health, only 2% of US hospital community investments were devoted to SDoHs.

In good news, four Connecticut hospitals made Lown’s list of Top Hospitals for Fair Share Spending. Bristol Hospital leads the list with a $4.8 million fair share surplus. Greenwich, Middlesex, and Lawrence & Memorial follow with surpluses of $2.6 million, $800,000, $684,000, respectfully. No Connecticut hospitals are on Lown’s top deficits list.

In bad news, collectively Connecticut hospitals had a fair share deficit of $390 million. Comparable states also took in more than they gave back to communities. New York’s fair share deficit was $1.6 billion, Massachusetts’s was $968 million, New Jersey’s was $473 million, and Rhode Island’s was $114 million.

Lown offers a list of policy recommendations to improve taxpayers’ return on investment in hospitals. Recommendations include transparent reporting on community spending, setting a minimum level of spending, and defining eligibility for financial assistance.