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Nonprofit hospitals dollar-strapped


As health-care costs rise and the American population ages, nonprofit hospitals in the U.S. are struggling to make financial ends meet, a new report says.

Some of that struggle is a result of fewer philanthropic dollars, says the report, “Nonprofit Hospitals in America: Lives, Jobs and Philanthropy,” which was released by Changing Our World and onPhilanthropy.

While Americans gave about $22.5 billion to health-care institutions in 2005, donations to the nation’s nearly 3,000 nonprofit hospitals, which provide 580,000 beds, have not kept pace with rising health-care costs, the study says.

And giving to health over the last decade, while up 30 percent after adjusting for inflation, falls short of the rise in overall philanthropy of 50 percent.

That is leaving a gap in health-care organizations’ budgets.

In 1980, almost 5 percent of total health sector costs were covered by philanthropy, the study says, but today those contributions pay for only 1.5 percent of costs.

Foundations’ influence on hospitals and research is down as well, with just over one in three of their health dollars going to such groups, compared to more than half in 1998.

At the same time, hospitals’ financial stability is eroding as mean charges for treating the uninsured have more than doubled in fewer than 10 years.

Philanthropic support of hospitals is vital not only for those institutions and the patients they serve, but for the community as a whole, the report says, given that hospitals are economic engines for American communities.

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