Politics in play
Once again, we see a politically inspired, seemingly logical but costly and most likely wrong-minded attack on UPMC ("City Lawsuit Challenges UPMC's Tax Status" March 21). I invite those who agree with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and think you understand what being a true nonprofit is about to take a step back and think again. Visit the YouTube talk by Dan Pallotta which explains why, in order to be successful on a large scale, a nonprofit organization has to have a means to make money to be given away.
In addition to employing a substantial number of locals, UPMC gives money away. For instance, there's the Pittsburgh Promise, and behind the scenes it does many other things, such as supporting the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine to further biomedical research for the greater good while training our M.D. and Ph.D. scientists.
I can give first-hand testimony to the fact that those hospital "write-offs" for patients who cannot pay are quite real. UPMC picked up the entire cost of a visitor from another country who was the father of a university employee and who got ill on a visit to the United States. No organization is perfect, but the pros of this organization far outweigh the cons.
On UPMC's side
After reviewing a measure that would amend the state constitution to allow lawmakers to decide what kinds of institutions qualify as purely public charities, as well as a companion bill now before the House Finance Committee, I side with UPMC.
First of all, Western Pennsylvania would be far behind its present standard of health care had it not been for the work of UPMC. It is a charity by virtue of its deeds, much like the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
The second thing to consider is the future impact on our health care system with implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act. Charities will still be able to provide the much-needed research and development that has advanced our health system to be the best in the world today. This charity care will be lost if we don't fight to preserve it now.
The last thing we should look at is the sad state of affairs the city is in. These problems have come about by lack of leadership and fiscal irresponsibility over the years. The fiscal problems of the city should in no way be blamed on a charity whose fiscal responsibility has been proven with great success and honor. If you have ever been involved with a true charity, you know there is no way government can provide what a charity can. The city needs to look elsewhere for its missing funds.
J. RANDALL THARAN
Knox, Clarion County