Georgia lawmakers are trying to work on a plan to get more donations to struggling rural hospitals. A state House committee Thursday passed a bill that would increase the amount of tax credits people can claim when donating to rural hospitals.
State Rep. Geoff Duncan, R-Cumming, sponsored a bill last year creating the tax credit program. His bill this year would increase the tax credit amount from 70 to 90 percent.
“What we're hearing from our rural communities is that there's a tremendous amount of momentum around that bill, but that the corporate donors looking at the 30 percent gap in that tax credit, it's just too big for them to report back to their shareholders,” Duncan said.
The tax credit program has made $50 million available in credits for 2017, but the Georgia Department of Revenue said that as of Feb. 2, about $1 million has been approved – about 2 percent of available credits.
“We were very hopeful that by this time we would have a lot more support,” said Clay Jones, regional director of operations for E.R. Hospitals, which manages four rural hospitals in Georgia.
He said the four hospitals his company manages have gotten about $120,000 in donations so far since the tax credit program started in January. By this point, they had hoped for closer to half a million dollars.
“The current 70 cents on the dollar, or 70 percent tax credit, has been a stumbling block for a lot of people that are supporters of the hospital,” Jones said.