As highlighted in the recent The Times Observer article ("Hospital Blames County; Cites Loss of Tax Exemption," September 13) Warren County has made a decision to challenge Warren General Hospital's 100-year tax-exempt status to help address the county's financial issues. But weakening one of the county's most important assets-the hospitalwhich is the region's health care safety net, a key community resource, and economic driver-is not the answer. This decision will only compound problems, not fix them.
Warren General Hospital takes care of everyone who comes through their doors, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of financial or insurance status. Last year, the hospital contributed nearly $4 million to the county in the form of charity care and care for the uninsured and underinsured. These services relieve the county of a government burden because Pennsylvania does not have public hospitals.
As the only hospital in the county, Warren General provides acute care services; specialty services such as cancer, renal, and orthopedic treatment and care; behavioral health and drug and alcohol services; maternity and women's health care; home health, hospice, and rehabilitation services; and access to Level II trauma care services.
Warren General contributes more than $117 million to the region's economy each year, employs 700 people, and is among the top employers in the county. In addition, the hospital provides $4.6 million in community benefits, such as free clinics; health screenings; health education programs, training, and research; and student scholarships; all at no cost to meet community health needs. These are services that would otherwise not be provided by the county.
Revoking a hospital's not-for-profit tax-exempt status should not be taken lightly. Without its tax-exempt status, Warren General will not be able to counterbalance financially challenged but critical programs with revenue streams from other areas. The county's decision could result in the elimination of jobs and crucial services, and the diversion of critical health care resources outside the county, jeopardizing access to the healing, health, and hope that Warren General Hospital has provided county residents since its inception in 1895.
Carolyn F. Scanlan
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP)