“In Montana, the Attorney General is responsible both for monitoring nonprofit corporations and for protecting the interests of those served by a nonprofit corporation. Thus, the Attorney General is responsible for monitoring nonprofit hospitals and their foundations, and ensuring that the hospitals are fulfilling their charitable obligations.”
The Montana Hospital Report is an annual assessment of the charitable purposes of the largest nonprofit hospitals and foundations in our state. Beginning in 2010, the report began examining smaller, critical access hospitals in the state.
All of these nonprofit hospitals are public benefit corporations under Montana law. They exist only to serve their communities, not to make money. Because of this, they have been given tax exempt status — a status that saves them tens of millions of dollars annually. These hospitals have a duty to provide community benefits to the areas they serve. Charity care — free or discounted services to those living below or near the federally established poverty level — is the most significant community benefit nonprofit hospitals provide. It is in the interest of all hospitals to ensure that all qualified patients are provided charity care rather than incurring bad debts.
In July 2014, the Attorney General’s Office released the sixth hospital report — showing that, among other things, Montana’s nonprofit hospitals provided nearly $215 million in total community benefits in fiscal year 2011.
About the Montana Hospitals Survey
The Montana Attorney General’s Office is charged with protecting consumers from unfair trade practices. The office is also responsible for supervising nonprofit corporations in the state, including all major Montana hospitals. Under the hospitals’ tax-exempt status, they receive millions of dollars in tax benefits from federal, state and local governments in return for the charity care and community benefits they provide.
In September 2006, the Attorney General’s Office began surveying hospital policies in three areas:
- pricing policies, including variations related to insurance coverage,
- charity care policies and practices, and
- debt collection practices.
The wealth of information provided by Montana’s hospitals was analyzed by Lawrence White, a research assistant professor with the School of Public and Community Health Sciences at the University of Montana and former CEO of St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.
White’s reports provide an independent analysis of the data collected.
Read the Reports Online
Copies of each report are available for download: