I got this in an email from One Wisconsin today. It goes to an issue that's had me furious for months now. Access to medical services for women in the city of Milwaukee (although the problem is statewide). The basic issue is this. All hospitals on the north and east side of Milwaukee are now operating under so-called religious refusal clauses when it comes to most reproductive services. This means they won't provide birth control, they won't provide tubal ligations, and they won't save the mother's life in case of emergency if it requires terminating a pregnancy, in such cases both the mother and the fetus will be allowed to die unless they have the money, physical ability to ask and knowledge to ask to be transferred to a hospital on the South side or Froedert...
This is unconscionable and it's being done on OUR taxpayer dime. We each pay extra property tax dollars to subsidize the hospitals in our neighborhoods and they slap us in the face by letting women die because they are women and less valuable in the eyes of the religious institutions that run these hospitals. It's shameless and disgusting and we pay for it.
Beyond this, a growing number of these institutions refuse to take Badgercare (WI's state subsidized health insurance for the poor and middle class) and title 19 for the poorest of Milwaukeeans citing fiscal responsibility, but don't miss a beat when explaining they "take care of the poor so should get a tax break"!!!
These so-called religious institutions should be ashamed of themselves (how very UN-Christian of them) and cudo's to the Institute for Wisconsin's Future for this important study!
Hospitals and Property Taxes
By Jack Norman Ph.D.
If you want to cut property taxes without having to cut public services, look no further than your nearest local hospital.
Chances are, hospitals in your community aren't paying a penny in property taxes, even though they get priority treatment on all sorts of services funded by the property tax, from snowplowing to police.
The tax-exempt status requires a hidden public subsidy on top of already-high hospital rates. Hospitals have a win-win system: they charge high rates and have others cover the cost of the municipal services they depend on.
In Wisconsin, 95% of the hospitals are classed not-for-profit, one of the very highest rates in the country. That translates into zero property taxes on their land, buildings and equipment.
Well over $6 billion worth of hospital property is off the property tax rolls, according to a new report from the Institute for Wisconsin's Future: Hospitable Taxes: How Property Taxes Subsidize Wisconsin's ‘Non-Profit' Hospital Industry. That's a very conservative estimate, and the total-if assessed today-would likely exceed $20 billion.
Hospitals argue their charitable work justifies their exempt status. But for-profit companies don't get a property tax break for their charitable work. Homeowners don't get a property tax break for charitable donations. Credit unions don't pay income taxes but do pay property taxes.
Today's non-profit hospitals operate no differently than for-profit hospitals. CEO salaries at the biggest hospitals are the same as at the biggest corporations.
Shouldn't hospitals help pay the property taxes that support the public services they depend on?
IWF's report includes details on 109 non-profit hospitals, including how much they should be paying in local property taxes, and details on how the exemptions affect homeowners in 93 communities. In LaCrosse, for example, the owner of a median-priced home is paying an extra $162 a year in property taxes, to subsidize two tax-free hospitals.
At a time of budget crises for local governments across the state, Wisconsin should look for additional sources of revenue, rather than look to cut public services.
Dr. Jack Norman is the Research Director at Institute for Wisconsin's Future, a non-partisan policy and research organization in Milwaukee. IWF works to produce and disseminate analyses of key public policy issues and coordinate community education campaigns to inform the public about critical issues.