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