“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Lack of regulation, oversight has statewide implications

Embargoed until noon, Oct. 5, 2006

Contact: George Schwarz, publisher/editor

Voice: (806)331-5066

Mobile: (806)570-7172

The Amarillo Independent, in a copyright story for its Oct. 5 edition, reports that Baptist St. Anthony's Health System in Amarillo has filed questionable reports with Texas’ Department of State Health Services.

The story package, which runs about 3,300 words, includes a sidebar outlining the tax implications for the public entities covered by the Potter-Randall Appraisal District, a By-the-Numbers that compares key financial indicators for the two hospitals serving Amarillo and its surrounding communities and an editorial calling for more state oversight and transparency of nonprofit hospitals.

The story will also be published in The Hereford Brand Oct. 5 and carboned to The Associated Press.

The investigation, which began more than two years ago, found that BSA likely failed to meet its responsibility to provide the amount of charity care Texas requires for a nonprofit hospital to maintain its tax-free status.

Those analyses studied the link between two official submissions ¾ each to a different state agency. One filing, a form called the Annual Statement of Community Benefits Standard, goes to the Department of State Health Services, formerly known as the Texas Department of Health. The second filing is the electronic billing files sent to Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

The two analyses reveal a major discrepancy between what BSA has told DSHS its charity care costs were and what its billing data told the HHSC.

The investigation by the Independent also found little, if any, state oversight of what nonprofit hospitals submit to authorities.

These discrepancies have broad implications for nonprofit hospitals filing with the state, including whether a hospital might lose its tax exempt status:

· The information submitted in the Annual Statement of Community Benefits Standard filing with DSHS is not audited by outside sources.

· No other state agency routinely reviews the accuracy of the Annual Statement of Community Benefits Standard.

· The only time a hospital’s submission is investigated by DSHS is if someone complains.

· The Attorney General’s Office has no clear answer about how and why it does oversight of nonprofit hospital filings.

· No state agency routinely links the information from the Annual Statement of Community Benefits Standard with filings with the HHSC to see if the state’s own data, electronically collected directly from hospital billings, match the hospitals’ charity care claims.

· The Potter-Randall Appraisal District does not examine the Annual Statement of Community Benefits Standard filings, raising questions about whether local government entities are getting their fair share of tax money.

The story is based on two legal analyses, a May 10, 2006, internal memo the Independent obtained from a confidential source. That memo demonstrated that BSA would “comply with the minimum requirements of community benefits in Texas,” but that’s not where the problems occurred. The same attorneys did a similar analysis in a memo dated Feb. 13, 2004.

The story reports that the problems with BSA’s filings — either the ones originally submitted or a correction submitted on Jan. 10, 2006 comes from a discrepancy between the benefit statement filings and the information the state collects through electronic filings of hospital bills.

“Most significantly, BSA annually reports two to three times the amount of Medicaid unreimbursed costs as the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (‘HHSC’) records for the hospital,” the May 10 memo states. “If the HHSC’s reported figures are materially correct, BSA is not eligible for tax exempt status and has not been eligible for the past five years.”

The story goes on to report the details of those analyses, including comments and explanations by a certified public accountant who is knowledgably about health care finance and has experience with hospitals in Texas. The story also reports BSA’s response and the responses of state agencies that one would think had oversight: DSHS, HHSC, the Office of the Attorney General, the Comptroller of Public Accounts and the Potter-Randall Appraisal District.

Further information about the story can be obtained by calling The Amarillo Independent or get the full story at http://www.amarilloindy.com