Today, the Florida State House is scheduled to vote on HB 1295 that relates to property-tax exemptions for nonprofit hospitals. The bill, sponsored by freshman Florida Representative Mike Caruso (R) of Boca Raton, seeks to address inequities that cause local governments to lose property tax revenues, while at the same time addressing the need for additional healthcare in local communities.
According to Representative Caruso, it’s simple – and I completely agree. “A vote for this bill is a vote to mandate that nonprofit hospitals provide Florida communities more free healthcare for low income and underserved individuals.”
Sounds like a no brainer.
Especially when you consider the fact that, currently nonprofit hospitals receive over $200 million in local community tax breaks – but with no requirement that they provide charitable care to these same communities.
The brilliance of this bill lies in the fact that it will do something not currently being done with nonprofit hospitals – hold them accountable for their charitable care.
House Bill 1295 will require hospitals to document the value of the charitable services they provide, so that they may then get a local property-tax exemption that is proportional to the value of the charity care they reported to the IRS.
Actually, from what I understand, this is a national issue. In 2011, nonprofit hospitals benefitted from $24 billion in tax exemptions according to a 2015 analysis. These tax benefits meant no taxes paid into the school system, no taxes paid for local roads, and no taxes paid for city ambulances that bring patients to their doors.
Wow, let that settle in for a minute …
Caruso hopes, that this bill will encourage nonprofit hospitals to staff local clinics, offer free preventive care in the community, and provide pro-bono emergency services to uninsured, low-income individuals. Caruso gets it!
There’s a saying by St. Jude that goes, “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.”
This is the best thing that a state legislator has done in a long while – especially a freshman. Let’s hope it makes things better for those who best deserve support in our communities.