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Pittsburgh citizens protest UPMC’s use of 14th Amendment to sue city

Pittsburgh citizens protest UPMC’s use of 14th Amendment to sue city

By Claire Prestel, Staff Attorney

The outrage is building against the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s unsavory claim that its civil rights are being violated by the City of Pittsburgh’s challenge to its tax-exempt status.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about Pittsburgh’s lawsuit against UPMC, which challenges UPMC’s claim to “public charity” status and to special public-charity tax breaks. The city contends that UPMC is acting like a for-profit company, not a charity, pointing out that UPMC pays its CEO almost $6 million, has closed hospitals in poor neighborhoods while opening hospitals in rich ones, and announced recently that it would no longer accept certain insurance coverage.

I also wrote about UPMC’s hardball response, which includes filing its own lawsuit claiming that its civil rights are being violated by Pittsburgh’s tax challenge. As part of UPMC’s suit, the company relies on laws originally passed to protect African-American voters and remedy the effects of slavery.

Now the UPMC story is getting more attention. CBS This Morning aired an investigative segment that looks at UPMC’s claims to public-charity tax breaks. Last week, Pittsburgh citizens turned out to protest UPMC’s reliance on the 14th Amendment in its countersuit against the city. And today, Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a hilarious cartoon poking fun at UPMC’s reliance on our civil-rights laws.

Let’s hope the message gets through to the head honchos in UPMC’s corporate suite!