Not so charitable — Ivanova/Johnson pitch

From Irina Ivanova and Victoria Johnson

A proposed title or headline

Not so charitable

A story slug — up to three words that capture the essence of your story

Charity care

Key elements

From 2008 and from 2010–

Amount of money hospitals receive for charity care (the “indigent care pool”). The number of applications they approve. The hospitals’ size (calculated by number of beds).

A news hook, or explanation of why this story matters now

In New York, where more than a dozen hospitals have closed in the past decade and six more are in danger of closing, the issue of cost and access to health care is particularly dire. The governor lobbied for NY to get an infusion of federal funding in part to help restructure Brooklyn hospitals, which activists say are necessary to provide medical care to the poorest people.

There’s a program in place called the Indigent Care Fund, which gives money to hospital throughout the state that have a lot of poor or uninsured (read:unprofitable) patients. But just because hospitals get that money doesn’t mean they spend it. Data collected by the Community Service Society shows that some hospitals that get large amounts of funding for charity care offer none, or little.

When CSS released this report in 2012, it was a big deal–the Times and other major media picked it up. The report used data from 2008-2009, and since that time, hospitals’ charity care practices have come under scrutiny and are now audited by the state. We’d like to show whether, and how much, hospitals’ charity care policies have improved in the past few years.

A description of and link to the data

  • A 2012 report from the Community Service Society, a nonprofit, describes the 201 hospitals in New York that provide charity care and compares it to the number of applications they approved. Report uses 2008 data.

  • Data from Institutional Cost Reports from 2010 (the same reports from which CSS gathered their data, above), covering all hospitals in the state. (Note: we’re still figuring out how exactly to extract the data).

  • A list of hospitals open, closed, and close to closing in New York City as of 2014

  • Sources

  • Elisabeth Benjamin, Vice President, Health Initiatives/Community Service Society of NY. (212) 614-5461;

  • Robin Gelburd, president, FAIR Health. 212-370-0704

  • Keith Smith, surgeon who runs a cash-based, transparently priced practice in Tulsa, OK.; 405-627-0274