Define: Nonprofit

By - Last modified: April 4, 2013 at 9:24 AM

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Heather Stauffer
Heather Stauffer

If you could set the standards organizations have to meet to qualify as tax-exempt nonprofits, what would they be?

I ask for three reasons.

First, because the Pennsylvania lawmakers are working on bills that would give the General Assembly sole authority to establish what qualifies an organization as a charity (backstory here). The Senate said yes, 30 to 20; the House has not yet voted. The change would require amending the Pennsylvania Constitution, so to take effect, the measure would have to pass in two consecutive legislative sessions and then be approved by voters in a public referendum.

Second, because UPMC is always on my mind — er, in my news feed. It's a big operation, and Pittsburgh's mayor wants it on the tax rolls.

Third, because most members of my family have now switched their membership from the nonprofit community center they've attended for years to a for-profit one. The nonprofit is big and beautiful and busy as can be and buoyed by grants and contributions from local municipalities — and yet ever more expensive, at nearly twice the cost of the for-profit one.

So, where would you draw the lines?

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Speaking of UPMC and things on my mind:

The expiration date on the Highmark/West Penn Allegheny Health System deal is May 1. That's coming up quickly.

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Speaking of deadlines:

You know that 2014 is when businesses with 50 or more full-time employee equivalents will have to pay or play on health insurance. But you can't ignore it until then. As I was recently reminded, the determination on whether a business has reached the threshold for 2014 looks back on either all of 2013 or a consecutive six-month period in 2013.

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Plugging away shamelessly:

• Our Health Care Reform Resource Center has been named the best online special project in the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association's 2013 Keystone awards, Division VI. It offers a news feed of national health care stories, a resource list, a compilation of my recent health care blogs and ­— my favorite — a place where you can submit questions to our illustrious Health Care Reform Expert Advisory Panel. It's free, and I believe that experts should be worked hard, so please ask away.

• Speaking of experts working hard, David Vassilaros of Capital BlueCross will make a repeat appearance in a live chat at 9 a.m. Friday, April 12. Live chats give you a chance to ask your questions in real time for free; the focus this time will be current events and the employer mandate. Put it on your calendars, start thinking of your questions and scroll to the bottom of our Health Care Reform Resource Center to sign up for a free email reminder.

• You may have noticed that we CPJB reporters have started doing "drop by and talk business" mini-events at coffee shops once a month. My next one will be from 1 to 2 p.m. on Friday, April 19, at Caffeine Connection, 500 N. Third Street, Harrisburg. Health care story suggestions are welcome, and I'd also be happy to talk about nonprofits and education, two other areas I cover. Make a note — it's a great reason to get out of the office and have some java!

Heather Stauffer covers Lancaster County, nonprofits and health care. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at heathers@centralpennbusiness.com. You can also follow her on Twitter, @StaufferCPBJ.

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