Illinois Postpones Challenging Property Tax Exemptions of Nonprofit Hospitals

Illinois governor Pat Quinn has announced that the state will postpone its decision about whether to strip any additional nonprofit hospitals of their property tax exemption, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Over the summer, the state's Department of Revenue denied exemptions for three hospitals — Prentice Women's Hospital, Edward Hospital, and Decatur Memorial Hospital — on the grounds that they did not provide enough free and discounted medical care to qualify for the exemption. Another fifteen evaluations of nonprofit hospitals are in the pipeline.

According to the Tribune, the Illinois Hospital Association asked the state to reverse its decision and hold off on further exemption-related decisions until a compromise can be reached. The association argues that losing the exemption would devastate a hospital's budget and result in layoffs.

In response, Quinn said the state legislature would craft legislation that more clearly defines the qualifications for the exemption and include the association in those discussions. The state also said it would provide recommendations by March 1.

Although the hospitals in question issued separate statements indicating that they were pleased with the governor's decision to revisit the issue, they also said they will appeal the department's original decision.

"It's a temporary detente," said Brie Callahan, a spokesperson for the governor. "If the talks aren't going anywhere...then the Department of Revenue will have to do what is required by law and the Constitution."