CHICAGO — Nonprofit hospitals have suffered a nearly 22% drop in pension plan median funding levels since 2007, a situation that could put further strain on the balance sheet of struggling facilities, according to a new report on pension challenges facing the sector by Standard & Poor's.

In fiscal 2009, the median funded status for nonprofit hospitals was 68.6%, compared to 82.9% in fiscal 2008 and 90.4% in fiscal 2007. Standard & Poor's defines funding status as the pension plan assets as a percentage of the projected benefit obligation.

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