TMC Board Statement on UPMC and its Charity Status

Statement Adopted at TMC April 2013 Board Meeting

“The Thomas Merton Center supports the City of Pittsburgh challenge to UPMC’s non-profit/”charity” tax-exempt status. UPMC has for far too long acted more like a profit-seeking corporation than a public charity, failing to meet the criteria for their tax-exempt status by placing profits above the needs our communities, their workers and their patients.

One of the most egregious examples of UPMC’s craven profit-grabbing at the expense of potential patients is UPMC’s closing of Braddock Hospital, a hospital in a community in need of more access to healthcare, not less. At the same time, UPMC spent hundreds of millions of dollars to open a new hospital –virtually across the street from a “competitor”–in an affluent community that could never be described as lacking access to healthcare facilities. It now takes residents of Braddock an hour to reach the nearest hospital by public transit.

In 2011 alone, UPMC benefited from over $200 million in tax breaks, while paying its CEO Jeffery Romoff nearly $6 million dollars and 22 other employees more than one million dollars. If those tax dollars had been paid by UPMC, the deficits of both the Port Authority and the Pittsburgh Public Schools could have been eliminated… and there would still be $72 million remaining to further strengthen our community.

With 55,000 employees, UPMC is the biggest private employer in Pennsylvania, yet many UPMC workers depend on public assistance to survive because they are not paid living wages. UPMC is the largest real-estate owner in Allegheny County and made $1 billion in profit in the last two years, with $3.9 billion in reserve funds according to their own first fiscal report for 2013. Yet UPMC has spent hundreds of thousands of advertising dollars representing itself as a charity to avoid paying real estate or payroll taxes… all while building hospitals from Ireland to Kazakhstan!

UPMC is profiting from citizens’ needs while violating the labor rights of its employees and failing to contribute its fair share towards public infrastructure–infrastructure that includes the buses that transport so many UPMC employees to work at its facilities. If UPMC is going to retain its “charity” status, then we need UPMC to step up and give back more to our community. The Thomas Merton Center calls on our elected officials to stand strong and hold UPMC accountable.”