Carle: Free, discounted care up $10 million

Carle: Free, discounted care up $10 million

Increase reflects 'terrific need in our community,' foundation says

URBANA — The Carle Foundation says it gave away $35.1 million in free or discounted care last year, $10 million more than the previous year.

The increase reflects an economy in which people continue to struggle, the foundation's CEO Dr. James Leonard said Thursday.

"It's been tough since 2008 out there, and the recovery has been slow, so there is a terrific need in our community," he said. "We know that over 20 percent of the people in Champaign County probably live around the poverty level."

The free and discounted care, which went to 25,593 people, is reflected at cost, Leonard said.

The figure is part of $153.2 million (also reflected at cost) in services, donations and support Carle says it provided last year. About half of that total was Carle's cost of covering bad debt and portions of patient bills that weren't covered by Medicaid and Medicare programs.

Contributions in the $153.2 million also included such things as educational programming for medical students, financial support for Frances Nelson Health Center and the Smile Healthy dental program and aid to the Coles County Community Health Center.

Carle says it also funded several school-based and safety programs and subsidized $12.1 million in services that otherwise wouldn't be available, covering losses for its neonatal intensive care unit, Expanding Children's Hearing Opportunities (ECHO) program, Airlife transport services and home health services.

Carle met the criteria for a charitable tax exemption for 2012 under a new state law that defined and broadened what counts, but is continuing to seek a tax exemption for some prior years through the court.

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing said she hasn't seen Carle's new community benefits report, but she contends Carle still ought to be paying its "fair share" of taxes.

Carle's charitable contributions and services are spread out around its service area, but 83 percent of its properties — and costs for municipal services — are in Urbana, she said.

"What community are they measuring the benefits to, and what community bears the costs?" Prussing asked.

Carle's community benefit report is available online.

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TimeToWakeUp wrote on September 06, 2013 at 10:09 am

Carle needs to just quit the crying and pay their share of taxes like everyone else.  Non-profit???  Yea right.  U can buy several bottles of asprin for the price of one pill they give you. And let me guess...the reason I have to pay so much is to help offset the cost of those that can't afford it.  So since that's not enough now my taxes should raise even more to once again help offset the cost further to others.  Who offsets the costs for me and my family???

Kremlin Watcher wrote on September 06, 2013 at 11:09 am

Mayor Prussing is correct to say that Carle ought to pay its fair share. Carle knows and should be able to tell us how much of its free or discounted care goes to residents of Urbana. That amount could arguablly be balanced against Carle's property taxes in Urbana. But since Carle serves a large geographic area, there is no reason for Urbana taxpayers to subdisize Carle and all its other patients. Perhaps The News-Gazette could use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to get these data for us.

GeneralLeePeeved wrote on September 06, 2013 at 2:09 pm

OK, I'm not 100% sure on this, but I don't think the FOIA applies to Carle.

EMT wrote on September 06, 2013 at 11:09 am

As a non-profit there are NOT corporate shareholders making dividends and profits.  Revenues go back into patient care, salaries of many nurses and staff who reside in Urbana (and pay taxes).  Let's be grateful for the $153,000,000.00 of community benefit over Laurel Prussing's whining about property tax.  Carle did not write the rules, but as an organization they are playing by the rules.  



Molly1 wrote on September 06, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Perhaps Carle is as annoyed as I am about some of the recent expenditures that the city of Urbana has been involved in.

The project going on in downtown Urbana has its positive points, don’t get me wrong, the Boneyard Creek update ( is cleaning up a depressed area next to Silvercreek restaurant, but other parts of the project just were not thought out well at all.

Parts of the project apparently:

  1. Turn straight curbs into curbs that look like they were put down by a drunken sailor.  How are the snowplows supposed to navigate twisting curbs that they can not see under a foot of snow?
  2. As part of making the sidewalks larger, they tried to get fancy and added brick into the cement.  Sure it looks kind of pretty, but why didn’t someone think to talk to the Champaign County Courthouse, which made that same mistake several years ago.  Why didn’t someone ask the Courthouse why most of those bricks were removed, and replaced with colored cement instead?  You see the Courthouse had placed bricks into the cement, and every time there was the slightest little ice, even dew on a cold day, those bricks iced over and became extremely slick and caused people to fall, myself included. 
  3. Part of this project apparently involves turning two way streets into one way streets.  I mean I can understand investing to make a two-way street out of a one-way, but the street just to the North of the Courthouse has been modified DOWN to a one-way.  For bike lanes? No.  For wider sidewalks? Apparently not.  Have there been a lot of accidents on Walnut Street to want to reduce traffic flow? No.  So why the large investment to downgrade a street, I haven’t figured it out yet.

                I would quickly tire of paying higher taxes for ill thought out projects such as these too.  We’ve already had the Roundabout fiasco, and the needless re-examining of the County Jail over and over, when the logistics experts say that it would simply be cheaper and smarter to tear the thing down and start from scratch.  What’s next? A five million dollar study on the preference of the color of the street signs?  Perhaps a 10 million dollar study on the effects of feral cats on the local squirrel population?

                Carle could be forced to pay the $6 million dollars that Urbana feels the taxes are worth ( ), or Carle could continue to voluntarily give away $35 million dollars in free or discounted services (of which probably at least $6 million go to the residents of Urbana)?

                It seems as though most people, except those in politics, are smart enough to figure out that a 6 to 1 ratio is a good thing, and stop fighting Carle.  Just the money that Urbana stops paying the lawyers will help their budget, not to mention ending the ill thought out “upgrades” being done in downtown Urbana by out of county businesses from Edgar County.  Had Urbana given the money to a local company to perform the sensible parts of the Boneyard Creek project, local companies and local employees would have made more money, and would have helped Urbana to raise its own tax base.

enoughalready wrote on September 06, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Carle has already posted how much charity care goes to residents of Urbana...$5.6 million to more than 10% of its total population.

All of that in exchange for $800K in tax breaks.

Prussing's earlier claim of a $6 million dollar hit is now less than a million.  Hmmm.




787 wrote on September 06, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Yes, Laurel... yes.  We know your postion on Carle.  Yes, we know.  We've heard it all before.

Please find another dead horse to beat, or just do us all a favor and stop providing easily predictable comments to the News-Gazette.  It's a safe bet that you start to get all red in the face when someone mentions "Carle" in your presence.  That's not good for your health.

U. B. Free wrote on September 10, 2013 at 9:09 am

Oh, how I love when Carle makes the most commented section of the News-Gazette! As an employee at Carle, it's great to get more of a community perspective on the organization.

That being said, I do take issue with a few of the comments being made here and in the article.

A good place to start is with the comment by our CEO, Dr. James Leonard: "It's been tough since 2008 out there...." This man receives an anual salary of $1.2 million. How he has any right to comment on how tough it is "out there", how tough it is for those actually struggling to make ends meet, I do not know. Perhaps I'm overreacting to his phrasing. Perhaps he has spoken personally with some of our patients who have been fortunate enough to receive charity care. Perhaps he only knows what he's read in the paper.

Another point that's worth addressing is our status as a non-profit. It is true that with such a status we are not beholden to shareholders and that the money we make is reinvested in the organization. However, the question must be asked: non-profit for whom? Certainly, there is much personal profit to be made. Again, please refer to Dr. Leonard's salary. Is it possible that non-profits may be taken advantage of for personal gain? A good argument can be made that the very structure of our organization and others like it attracts individuals more drawn to potential paychecks than providing cost-effective, ethically sound medical services. "But we must pay to retain talent!" I can hear many scream. But if a reduction in administrative costs (i.e., salaries) would cause a flood of executives to leave the organization then I ask: how dedicated to this organization and our community are they anyway? If they'd be that quick to leave, do we really want them around to begin with?

One commenter made the claim that Carle does not write the rules but does play by the rules. This, I believe, betrays a naive understanding of our political process. Are we really to believe that lobbyists, on behalf of Carle and certainly many other like organizations, were not at all involved in the passing of the legislation that has led to the so-called "Carle Effect"? I will concede that we "play by the rules". But might the rules themselves need to be called into question? Our tax exemption status is perfectly legal. So is cheating on your spouse. The question of whether these things are right, however, is independent of these facts. Furthermore, this to me seems like a classic case of rationalization: Carle certainly does not want to pay taxes to begin with; we have plenty of accountants looking after that. It is only after that fact that we have our current reasoning for not doing so: "But all the charity care!"

I can think of plenty more worth addressing but for now I'm out of time!