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Tax status of medical corporations

I was interested to see the property tax forgiveness for Pennsylvania College of Technology, Lycoming College and UPMC buildings in Williamsport. At a time when cities are strapped for funds while still being expected to keep public schools funded through property taxes, somewhere in excess of $200 million is a lot to give up. These institutions are all described as “non-profits,” but this designation really only fits the two colleges here. Increasingly, to describe our huge medical corporations like UPMC as “non-profit” is essentially inaccurate.

Corporations like UPMC, Geisinger, Guthrie, Arnot, to name only the ones in our area, are very much in the business of watching the bottom line. How else to explain their penchant for reducing staff (that would be doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals) to marginally adequate numbers? How else to explain the obscenely huge salaries they pay their CEO’s and other upper management people?

Perhaps it is time to recognize that, more and more, American medicine provides our “care” through what can only be called a medical-industrial complex, complete with monopolies, especially in rural areas. All of this is supposed to benefit the patients, we are told. How do we square this with having to go to Williamsport or Sayre for many medical specialists? Or having to wait for elective procedures? Isn’t this what supposedly happens with “socialized” medicine?

Recently I received something from the Susquehana Health Foundation. Susquehana is now part of the larger UPMC presence. The Foundation was seeking funds for equipment for Soldiers and Sailors Hospital (also UPMC now). I believe the total cost for the two pieces of equipment was under $200,000. Perhaps these items could be paid for from the undoubtedly generous salaries of the president of UPMC Wellsboro and UPMC Cole or the Chairman of the Board of UPMC Wellsboro or any one of the upper management people in the larger UPMC system. The constituent elements of UPMC no longer constitute a charity in any meaningful sense.

ELLEN BLAIS

Mansfield

Submitted via email

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