Let's see. An 8.1 percent unemployment rate, 13 million Americans out of work, 10 million Americans underemployed with no benefits. 47 million people without health insurance in an economy the weakest since the Great Depression. In Warren County the unemployment rate is over 7 percent.
Within this scenario is Warren General Hospital, in my opinion, one of the finest community hospitals in Northwestern, PA.The hospital finds itself being "squeezed" financially by cut backs in Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement and, now, Warren County in revoking its tax-exempt status for real property taxes.
Being a non-profit, tax-exempt organization, WGH more than meets the criteria as set forth by the HUP test. WGH relieves the government of some of its burdens to the tune of $3.8 million dollars of un reimbursed medical care to Warren County. The first line of defense for the poor and marginalized of Warren County is the Emergency Room. NO one is turned away for lack of health insurance. Couple that with thousands of hours of community building ie. health fairs, screenings, educational programs, support groups. WGH advances charitable services, donates substantial portions of its services to people who are "legitimate subjects of charity", which is a nice way of sanitizing the plight of the poor.
What are these people thinking who want Warren General Hospital to pay property taxes? It's money! Well, there is more to life than money. One has to look at the quality of life in the community. That quality is enhanced by medical care and preventive services that Warren County could never afford or match the services of our community hospital.
In my opinion WGH, in lieu to taxes, has donated more in services and free medical care than the County would ever get back in property taxes. If the Board of Appeals goes through with their decision, it would be short-sighted and, as my dad would've said, "bites the hand that feeds them".
Father John Neff,
Pastor, St. Luke
Catholic Church, Youngsville
St. Anthony of Padua Church, Sheffield.