Policy Matters Ohio: Hospitals Need More Money, Should Pay More Taxes

Policy Matters Ohio

Leftist think tank Policy Matters Ohio suggested this week that Cleveland’s nonprofit hospitals should be paying tens of millions in additional property taxes, despite insisting in May that Ohio hospitals need more taxpayer funding through the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

“The area’s two leading nonprofit hospital systems, the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, together would owe tens of millions of dollars a year in additional property tax if their exempt properties in the city of Cleveland were subject to taxation,” Policy Matters wrote on December 9.

“By one estimate, that would amount to close to $34 million a year, and more than $20 million annually for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Those figures do not include the very substantial properties for which the Clinic, in particular, is seeking exemptions now.”

Policy Matters noted that the analysis was done at the request of the Cleveland Teachers Union and Common Good Ohio, a union-allied group dedicated to “social, economic, and environmental justice.”

“The Cleveland school district foregoes the most – more than $20 million a year by a conservative estimate,” Policy Matters wrote, making little attempt to obscure its goal of more money for the teachers union.

Though Policy Matters is currently advancing the notion that Cuyahoga County should be taking another $43 million and the City of Cleveland should be taking another $34 million from just two hospital networks each year, several months ago the think tank cited a loss of less than half that much public funding statewide as a reason to expand Medicaid.

Of Obamacare’s cuts to Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) funding, “our state’s safety net hospitals could face more than $23.4 million in cuts in 2014 to federal aid they receive to treat patients without insurance,” Policy Matters wrote on May 21, 2013.

This was a key Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) talking point in favor of the Obamacare expansion. Media Trackers published research in March showing that almost all OHA members receive a trivial portion of their total revenue through DSH and other charity care offsets.

In theory, care providers with huge net revenues could pool their money to support the “safety net hospitals” that the entitlement lobby warns will go under without billions in new Medicaid spending. But that solution wouldn’t mean bigger government, so it’s not worth consideration from OHA or Policy Matters.

Readers may wonder how Policy Matters could both call for higher taxes from hospitals and additional taxpayer funding for hospitals. The answer is simple: both policies are supported by labor unions, and both policies would grow government.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) District 1199 and the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA), two of the leading union advocates of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, are among Policy Matters Ohio’s many Big Labor donors.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) — of which the Cleveland Teachers Union is a local affiliate — gave $123,000 to Policy Matters between 2006 and 2011.