October 28, 2010

Law student wins prestigious writing contest

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Jaye R. Lindsay, a third-year student at Southern Illinois University School of Law, recently earned top honors in the 2010 Illinois Association of Healthcare Attorneys’ Law Student Writing Competition.

Lindsay, who is from Brooksville, Fla., wrote about the inequity in assessing property taxes on non-profit hospitals in Illinois in “Poverty, Profits, and Provena: A Demographic Approach to Charity Care.”

Lindsay received his award during the organization’s 28th annual health law symposium on Tuesday, Oct. 26, at Navy Pier in Chicago. He also received $2,500 for the award. Amy Lynn Fuetterer of Loyola University Chicago School of Law earned $1,500 for second place in the competition, and Emiranda Carcani of New England School of Law received $500 with a third-place submission. Damon Ritenhouse of DePaul College of Law received honorable mention.

Existing property assessment standards apply “one rigid set of factors to all non-profit hospitals,” regardless of factors including hospital size, community size, and population demographics that include age, income levels and other factors and, in particular, have more of an impact on rural hospitals, Lindsay said.

In using examples from other states, Lindsay said his piece argues “that demographic factors should be directly included in any future legislative attempts to codify or revise the existing standard.”

Instead of mandating “rigid numerical percentage of charity be given by a hospital in order to meet the standard for receiving a property tax exemption, the standard should take into account the existing community served by the hospital,” Lindsay said.

Lindsay also examines a March 2010 Illinois Supreme Court decision involving Provena Covenant Medical Center and the Illinois Department of Revenue. The court ruled the state was correct to take away the hospital’s tax exemption for tax year 2002 because the hospital did not provide enough charity care. Lindsay said the article argues “that small, underfunded, rural hospitals can maintain their exemption and thus remain in the communities they serve only if a more holistic approach is taken.”

Lindsay is the first student from the law school to win the contest, said W. Eugene Basanta, the Southern Illinois Healthcare Professor of Law.

“It’s a significant award,” he said. “It’s a very positive recognition of the quality of one of our students. That’s good for the program and good for the law school.”

Lindsay said he is “shocked, but honored,” with the award. He anticipates graduating in May 2011, although he is considering working for a LLM in Health Policy Law as an additional credential, he said. Lindsay earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of South Florida in 2006.

“I knew I had a great topic; it was timely and relevant to current health care debates at the state level. However, I know a lot of other terrific topics were likely submitted,” he said.

Lindsay attributes his success to his faculty advisers, particularly Michele Mekel, an assistant professor in the law school.

“She has been a source of constant motivation and support,” he said. “Her suggestions and insights helped me throughout the past year and resulted in a more informed approach to the research and writing process. I think a lot of students forget that they have experts all around them. While the work must be our own, students should always take advantage of the expertise and wisdom of faculty. In law school, everything you write can become a publishable piece if enough time and effort is invested.”

Lindsay’s winning effort is “demonstrative of student initiative combined with the health law opportunities and mentorship available through SIU School of Law’s Health Law Program and the Center for Health Law and Policy,” Mekel said.