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What Tax-Exempt Hospitals Owe Their Communities

April 25 (Bloomberg) -- Consider the tax-exempt hospital.

Traditionally, these hospitals have offered free or subsidized medical treatment for poor patients. Over the past half-century, however, as the federal government has taken to paying for health care -- via Medicare, Medicaid and, now, the Affordable Care Act -- policy makers have tried to steer the nation’s 2,900 tax-exempt hospitals away from charity medical treatment for individuals and toward the kinds of preventive public-health services that are believed to lower health-care costs generally: community blood-pressure and mammography screening, clinics for weight loss and smoking cessation, and so on.