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Provena Covenant To Petition For Supreme Court Review Of Decision
09/09/2008

PROVENA COVENANT TO PETITION FOR SUPREME COURT REVIEW OF

DECISION IN CONTINUING FIGHT OVER STATUS AS CHARITABLE INSTITUTION

Hospital officials decry Appellate Court opinion as incorrect on factual as well as legal grounds – describe serious negative impact to hospital mission

(Champaign, Ill.) September 9, 2008 – Provena Covenant Medical Center officials announced today that they will seek Illinois Supreme Court review of a ruling by the 4th District Appellate Court which reversed an earlier Circuit Court order to restore the religious and charitable property tax exemption of the hospital. The petition for “leave to appeal” will be filed by the end of the month.

“The Appellate Court opinion runs counter to the law, facts and evidence of our case, but also unfairly impugns the proud history of charitable and religious mission service by Provena Covenant Medical Center. The ruling also impacts on the very ability of our hospital to continue caring for all regardless of their ability to pay,” explained Jon “Cody” Sokolski, chair of the Board of Directors of Provena Covenant. “It flies in the face of our charitable history and reputation and disregards the undisputed fact that Provena provides unlimited charity care to all in need as well as other valuable charitable contributions to the Urbana-Champaign community. We expect to be allowed to vigorously appeal this decision before the Illinois Supreme Court.”

Fr. William Grogan, System Director of Ethics for Provena Health, and Healthcare Liaison to Cardinal Francis George and the Archdiocese of Chicago, said, “This misguided ruling prolongs a crisis for Provena Covenant and for non-profit hospitals in Illinois and across the nation. Community hospitals that care for the uninsured, Medicaid-insured and indigent populations in increasing numbers are in need of property tax exemption and other support in order to continue their missions of providing free care to all who need and seek help. If this decision is allowed to stand, it will send a chilling message that compliance with the process recognized under the laws of Illinois for over one hundred years has been abandoned in favor of some unknown new standard that ignores the true nature and extent of hospitals’ charitable contributions to their served communities. That cannot be allowed to go uncontested.”

PROVENA COVENANT’S UNDISPUTED RECORD

“Provena Covenant has had religious sponsorship from its very beginnings and an enduring mission commitment of caring for all in need regardless of their financial condition. This mission facility has contributed millions of dollars in charity and charitable benefits to the community on an annual basis, including years where the hospital has suffered operating losses. The denial of recognition as a charitable institution, and lack of charitable and religious property tax exemption to Provena Covenant is not only unjust, it reflects a fundamental error in reason and judgment,” said Father Grogan.

Provena Covenant Medical Center provided over $21 million in charity care and other community benefits in 2008, including unlimited free care to the poor and underserved as well as other, non-reimbursed Medicaid costs and community services. State, national and Catholic health care organizations have publicly supported Provena’s property tax exemption, 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.

“Forcing non-profit hospitals to pay property taxes takes millions of dollars away from the ability of a hospital to provide free and other patient care. That is bad public policy and an atrocious decision that risks the ability of the Champaign/Urbana community to continue to have the immense benefits provided by Provena Covenant” said Sokolski.

Provena Covenant Medical Center is part of Provena Health, a Catholic health system that includes six hospitals, 16 long-term care and senior residential facilities, numerous clinics, home health agencies and other health-related activities operating in Illinois and Indiana.

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