Hospitals overcharged uninsured, suits say

Here are the week’s top nonprofit stories:

* More than a dozen nonprofit hospitals have been accused in civil suits of violating their duty as charities by overcharging uninsured people and then hounding them for payment, The New York Times reportedJune 17.

* Ralph Nader has run his presidential drive from the same office in Washington, D.C., that through April housed a public charity he created, an overlap that campaign finance specialists say might violate federal law, The Washington Post reported June 13.

* Federal and state lawmakers and regulators are cracking down on nonprofits, with state attorneys general probing allegations involving nonprofits and board members, and at least 13 states and politicians in Washington, D.C., considering new laws to require tougher accountability standards for nonprofits, BusinessWeek reported in its June 21 edition.

* The Senate Finance Committee on June 22 will hold a hearing to investigate major abuses among nonprofits, including improper use of charities for personal gain, and nonprofits’ role in providing tax shelters for wealthy investors and businesses, The Wall Street Journal reported June 17.

* Prosecutors say dealmaker Gregory Earls, who headed the Harvard Parents Fund, defrauded more than 100 investors of $13.8 million, including investors to whom he had access through his Harvard connections and other fundraising activities, The Wall Street Journal reported June 11.

* The federal E-rate program that collects a fee from all U.S. phone users and gives $2.25 billion a year to help poor schools and libraries connect to the internet has been plagued by waste, bid-rigging and other fraud, according to documents and federal lawmakers, and is the focus of 42 criminal probes and Congressional hearings, The New York Times reported June 17.

* A Texas jury ordered two former officers of The Carl B. and Florence E. King Foundation in Dallas to pay $14 million in punitive damages for defrauding the charity, The Boston Globe reported June 15.

* A new study by Merrill Lynch & Co. and consulting firm Capgemini Group says one of every 125 Americans is a millionaire, and the number of millionaires in the U.S. is up 14 percent, and the number of Americans and Canadians with assets of more than $30 million totals 30,000, The Wall Street Journal reported June 15.

* Nongovernmental organizations such as environmental and social advocacy groups are trusted by 65 percent of people worldwide, outranking the United Nations, national governments, large domestic companies, press and media, trade and labor unions, and global companies, respectively, a new poll says.

* China has more than 2,000 nongovernmental environmental groups, up from nearly none 10 years ago, The Wall Street Journal reported June 15.

* Four medical groups in the Boston area have formed the region’s biggest physician-directed medical enterprise, all remaining subsidiaries of a nonprofit parent whose board will control each local budget and capital expenditure request, American Medical News reported in its June 21 edition.

* N.C. State University has raised more than $500 million in the quiet phase of a $1 billion capital campaign it plans to launch in fall 2005, The News & Observer in Raleigh reported June 14.

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