Provena officials question basis of Illinois Department of
Revenue's decision to continue imposing property tax burden on the non-profit
hospital, describe serious impact to hospital mission
Provena Health officials blasted the Illinois Department of Revenue's
decision to deny its property tax exemption renewal, saying it will hurt the
hospital, its patients and the community.
"This decision is completely unsupported by legal precedent, or the facts
we provided," said William T. Foley, President and CEO. "The state's
ruling flies in the face of our own charitable mission and challenges every
Illinois hospital's ability to continue serving the poor and uninsured."
"We will quickly appeal this ruling," he added.
In January 2003, the Champaign County Board of Review recommended that
Provena Covenant's property tax exemption be denied. In February 2004, the
Illinois Department of Revenue endorsed the board's recommendation, and Provena
Covenant's appeal of that decision was heard before an administrative law judge
in December 2004.
Since the original recommendation in 2003, Provena Covenant has paid $4.8
million in property taxes. Despite Provena Covenant's commitment of more
than $21.8 million annually in charitable benefits to the community, and its
operating losses from providing uncompensated care and inadequate government
reimbursement, the judgment issued today denies charitable status to the medical
center and forces the hospital to pay property taxes.
Hospitals across the nation have watched the Provena Covenant case
closely, as many health care institutions are being challenged on their property
tax-exempt status. Under the requirements laid out in the ruling, no
hospital in Illinois could be considered a charitable institution.
"This is a crisis for Provena Covenant and a national crisis for
non-profit hospitals. Community hospitals that care for the uninsured,
Medicaid-insured and indigent populations are left with little financial
resources to pay for property tax," said Foley.
Several health care and Catholic organizations have publicly
supported the renewal of Provena's charitable status, including: the American
Hospital Association (AHA), the Illinois Hospital Association (IHA), the
Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council (MCHC), the Catholic Hospital
Association (CHA), the Illinois Catholic Hospital Association (ICHA), and the
Catholic Conference of Bishops.
"Imposing new tax burdens on hospitals such as Provena Covenant
will only force them to reduce services and increase health care costs, thereby
jeopardizing access to quality health care services as well as the financial
viability of the hospital," said Ken Robbins, IHA President. "This decision is
disturbing and outrageous."
Provena Health is a Catholic health system that includes six hospitals,
16 long-term care and senior residential facilities, 28 clinics, five home
health agencies and other health-related activities operating in Illinois and
our open letter to the community.