The promise of “no bills for treatment, travel, housing and food is an attractive promise, but the implication that no bills are forthcoming is deceptive. Additionally, having multiple billions of dollars on hand to help the needy is unconscionable it they don’t help.
St. Jude Reserves Bursting While Families Go BrokeWhile St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital promises that families will never receive a bill, many still face serious financial burdens, a ProPublica investigation found.Even though the hospital covers treatment, travel, housing, and food, there are limits, and parents have had to quit jobs to become full-time caregivers to their sick children, leading to neglected mortgage and car payments, ProPublica found. Parents have had to exhaust their savings or retirement accounts, borrow money, or ask other charities for help while their children were treated at the hospital.Meanwhile, the highly visible charity raised $2 billion last year, and has more than $5 billion in reserves.Ge Bai, PhD, a professor of accounting and health policy at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, told ProPublica that St. Jude “should be spending the money as aggressively as they raise it, but they seem to be hoarding.”The investigation also found that only about half of the $7.3 billion St. Jude raised over the past 5 fiscal years went toward research and patient care, according to IRS filings. About 30% of the money covered the cost of St. Jude’s fundraising operations, and the remaining 20% went into its reserves.Overall, the hospital spends about $500 million per year on patient services, including medical care and other assistance, ProPublica found, noting that last year, just $40 million of funds raised were spent on food, travel, and housing.The news organization’s inquiry has led to policy changes, however. In a letter to parents, St. Jude said it would be expanding assistance to parents and other relatives during kids’ treatment, including increasing travel benefits to two parents instead of one, and covering regular trips to its Memphis, Tennessee facility for siblings and other loved ones.
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