Edward Hospital officials say new legislation awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn's signature will give them certainty when it comes to investing in the Naperville community.
The state Senate on Tuesday voted 31-27 to approve legislation allowing Edward and 17 other hospitals to maintain their exempt status when it comes to property taxes. The House passed the measure Friday by a vote of 60-52.
"We are pleased that the general assembly has approved legislation that allows Edward the opportunity to maintain our property tax exemption. And we look forward to the governor's signature," said Brian Davis, vice president of marketing and government relations.
"We are confident that Edward will meet the new criteria that our previously rejected property tax exempt application, along with other pending applications for various properties, will be approved in the near future by the department of revenue."
Department spokeswoman Sue Hofer, however, said the process may take some time.
"These hospitals now must demonstrate they are providing care at or more than the amount they would have otherwise paid in taxes. The assessed value of the hospital also has to be included in the new applications," Hofer said. "I think it's going to take the local assessor's office, department of revenue and the hospitals a little while to determine the best way to achieve the goal of this new law."
Ultimately, Davis said, the community will benefit from the hospital not paying "tens of millions of dollars" in combined sales and property tax.
"This allows us more certainty in knowing we can invest in our communities, that we can invest in critically needed services, access to care, improved quality and new lifesaving technology and upgraded facilities," Davis said. "That's what hospitals have lacked because we've kind of been in this no man's land. Its been three or four years since we've had very clear criteria."
The Illinois Hospital Association also has supported the legislation in written statements.
"We look forward to the governor signing the bill into law," association President and CEO Maryjane Wurth said. "This legislation sets clear, fair and workable criteria that states which activities and services are sufficient for hospitals to qualify for tax exemption and how charitable care is determined. This legislation holds hospitals accountable for what is expected and required of them."
Davis said Edward's charity care program ranks with the best of them.
"Edward has one of the most generous charity care programs in Illinois. We provided nearly $80 million in community benefit last year," Davis said. "We're still calculating what our hurdle would be and how far over that hurdle we believe we already are."