Doctors’ charity care decreases

Here are the week’s top news stories reported elsewhere:

* Today only two-thirds of doctors are providing free health care to poor patients, compared to three-quarters in the mid-1990s, according to a study by the Center for Studying Health System Change, the Associated Press reported March 23. The reduction is due in part to the decreasing fees insurers negotiate for their clients and the movement of individual physicians towards larger group practices, officials say.

* New York University and Columbia University each received $200 million donations, among the largest they have received to date, that will help the schools compete against rivals with far larger endowments, The New York Times reported March 21. The Levy Foundation’s gift to NYU will create a multidisciplinary center to study the ancient world; the Greene Foundation’s gift to Columbia will establish a science center to study the brain and human behavior.

* Oxfam International has temporarily suspended relief efforts in a district of the tsunami-devastated area north of Sumatra, Indonesia, after an internal audit discovered financial losses in the tens of thousands of dollars, The New York Times reported March 16. Although nonprofits rarely publicize their financial troubles, Oxfam, which expects to continue work within a few weeks, says it reported the problem because it values transparency and accountability.

* Nonprofit hospitals may face legislation designed to strengthen and clarify requirements for retaining their tax-exempt status if they do not do a better job of self regulation, The New York Times reported March 19. Many nonprofit hospitals are not providing enough charity care to defend their tax exemptions, congressional leaders and administration officials say.

* At least $157 million in taxpayer money dollars has been used to fund faith-based initiatives and other federal programs that support the Bush administration’s agenda on social issues, The Washington Post reported March 22.

* Public radio, which largely depends on corporate and individual donations, has increased its on-air corporate sponsorship messages in an effort to strengthen its financial stability, although some listeners turn to public radio to escape advertising, The Wall Street Journal reported March 17.

* In an attempt to aid the poor and improve the country’s social security system, the Chinese government has pledged to help non-governmental organizations by creating new regulations, giving tax breaks, and reducing supervision, AsiaNews reported March 13. A new law is expected within a year.

* Greenpeace continues to qualify as a nonprofit organization in the wake of an IRS audit that possibly was the result of accusations two and a half years ago by Public Interest Watch, a nonprofit watchdog group that is largely funded by Exxon Mobil, The Wall Street Journal reported March 21. The IRS will not comment on Public Interest Watch’s influence in its decision to audit Greenpeace; Exxon says it was unaware of the audit and played no role in its initiation.

* National Public Radio, which relies on corporations, foundations and listeners for funds, received a gift of $230 million from the estate of Joan B. Kroc, former wife of the founder of the McDonald’s chain, thereby transforming the organization that used to “live hand to mouth,” The New York Times reported March 19.

–Compiled by Laura Newman

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