Not too long ago, sports facility naming rights were reserved for corporations with big bank accounts and grandiose advertising campaigns: automobile companies, banks, technology giants and beer companies. Now another category of advertiser, a disturbing one, has entered the picture: nonprofit hospitals.
Nonprofit hospitals in Virginia, including Inova, have been a part of the chorus urging a dramatic expansion of Medicaid and the effort to block competition through reforming the monopolistic regulations known as the Certificate of Public Need. These nonprofit hospitals say that their finances are shaky and government subsidies are needed.
But last month, the Washington Redskins sold the naming rights to their training facility and headquarters in Ashburn to nonprofit mega-hospital chain Inova Health. While the financial details of the Inova deal have yet to be released, a similar partnership between the Redskins and Bon Secours, another nonprofit health system, may provide some idea.
In 2012, Bon Secours Richmond Health System became the sponsor of the Redskins’ training camp facility in Richmond. It agreed to pay $3.2 million for the naming rights.
Nonprofit hospitals such as Inova and Bon Secours are expected to provide charity care, not advertising for major NFL teams, in exchange for tax exemptions that include not paying property taxes. The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association reported that in fiscal 2013 Virginia’s nonprofit hospitals benefited from more than $928 million in tax exemptions. Yet, a Watchdog.org review of 2012-2013 financial reports found that charity care averaged only 4.2 percent of total expenses for Virginia’s nonprofit hospitals.
Inova’s 2014 financial numbers clearly show that it can do a lot more to help those who can’t pay for health care. Inova reported a compensation package for its chief executive that rivals many of the Redskins players’ contracts at about $6 million, a $217.7 million operating surplus and nearly $2 billion net assets on hand.
These numbers make it hard to accept the “we’re hurting financially” argument and show how much Inova could do to help those who need health care but can’t afford it.