WASHINGTON - The top Republican on the Senate's tax-writing committee yesterday suggested that nonprofit hospitals, which are currently tax-exempt and have the ability to issue tax-exempt bonds, should instead become taxable and receive tax deductions or credits for charitable activities.

Senate Finance Committee ranking minority member Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, floated the idea during a roundtable discussion on health care reform, after noting that it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish the work of for-profit hospitals from nonprofit hospitals.

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