Bagnato blasts not-for-profit hospitals - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Bagnato blasts not-for-profit hospitals

July 21, 2005

Albany-- One of Phoebe Putney's biggest critics says not-for-profit hospitals are a rogue industry that uses tricky accounting, and buys political influence, to rack up millions of dollars.

Dr. John Bagnato, the former chief of surgery at Phoebe Putney Hospital, gave a power point presentation to the Rotary Club-- with several of Phoebe's top executives in attendance-- Thursday afternoon.

He showed copies of tax records and profit and loss statements that he says show how Phoebe uses not-for-profit tax laws to accrue hundreds of millions of dollars in assets.

Dr. Bagnato says Phoebe charges uninsured patients higher rates than others to increase profits-- a practice he says hurts the community's health. "Because it offends my sensibilities that they use their charitable status as a way to make money, and they are not really taking care of people. They are not following through on what they told the IRS they would do," Bagnato said.

Phoebe Putney officials had no comment on the presentation.

Last week we told you that Phoebe Putney Hospital missed a deadline to hand over financial information to the U. S. Senate Finance Committee. The Senate is looking into the tax exempt status of ten hospitals.

Today, a committee spokeswoman said Phoebe has provided answers to some of the questions about their finances, and worked out a timetable to answer the remainder.

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