Hospital ends taxpayer credit

Whidbey General Hospital commissioners recently voted to take back a gift given to taxpayers in more generous times.

As of Jan. 1 property owners in the hospital district are no longer able to apply tax credit toward their hospital bills.

Under the program started in 1988, taxpayers in the district could deduct the annual hospital taxes they paid from their hospital bills, after insurance.

“It was a gift to the taxpayers, a way to give back to the community,” Trish Rose, hospital community relations director, said.

Under the tax credit program the hospital wrote off on average $2,000 to $2,500 every month, with 10 to 15 people using the program, according to Doug Bishop, Whidbey General chief financial officer. The average credit was $200 or less.

Bishop said it remains to be seen whether the hospital will now collect that money, or have more bad debts.

Commissioners voted to drop the program rather than face legal challenges based on new Medicare Compliance laws.

Bishop said there are laws against hospitals using inducements to attract more patients, which the government will then be billed for under Medicare. Fewer patients equals less government spending.

“When’s the last time you saw a hospital having a sale?,” Bishop said.

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