Friday, September 18, 2009

Nonprofit Hospitals Dodge One Bullet in Baurcus Health Bill

Nonprofit hospitals are breathing a sigh of relief after hearing that Senator Baurcus’s America’s Healthy Future Act will not include provisions to tax nonprofit hospitals if they do not give a specific amount of charity care.  In recent months, there has been a push by Senator Grassley in the Senate Finance Committee to add such a tax to the health care reform bill.  The bill makes several other changes to nonprofit hospitals, requiring them to make periodic assessments of community needs, publicize financial information, limit the billing of patients receiving financial assistance, and ban certain “extraordinary collections actions.”  The burden of these requirements is debatable; the Wall Street Journal calls them “relatively benign,” while Reuters views them as an unnecessary burden.

Aid Workers and AU Troops Targeted in Somalia

On Thursday, two car bombs shook an African Union peacekeeping base in Somalia.  The bombs killed 21 people, including 17 aid workers.  Al Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Optional Air Line Fee to Fight Disease in Africa

Starting in January, you will be asked to donate $2 to a UN fund ever time you purchase an airline ticket online or at a travel agency.  The proceeds of the donations will be given to UNICEF, the Clinton Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and other international NGO’s working to end HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in Africa.  The program is expected to eventually raise $1 billion a year and have an administrative cost below 5%.

Microfinance Loan Officers Facing Violence in India

Microfinance loan officers are becoming the target of violence as they do their daily rounds collecting cash from borrowers across several villages.  The officers are usually easy to spot, wearing a bag with the bank’s logo and typically come at a specific time each week, making them an easy target for criminals.  Microfinance institutions are seeking ways to eliminate cash transactions in order to protect their officers, but are being met with resistance from the Reserve Bank of India.