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GAO discussed proposed legislation that would authorize the sale of government-owned land in the District of Columbia to the Columbia Hospital for Women for $12 million, focusing on the: (1) hospital's financial condition; and (2) fair market value of the land. GAO found that: (1) previous appraisals were old and market conditions had changed, and only an auction or a current appraisal, using federal appraisal standards, could determine the property's fair market value; (2) for the years ending June 30, 1989 and 1990, Columbia Hospital was generally in comparable or better financial condition than the industry as a whole; (3) the hospital's financial position deteriorated somewhat during 1990, since it invested $25 million in a major facility renovation project which significantly increased its debt load; (4) the hospital may be unable to construct a planned health center even if it obtains the land, since creditors may be unwilling to lend given the stagnation of development loans in the area; and (5) although the proposed women's health resource center would provide programs, services, and activities that will address several of the problems associated with the nation's health care, sale of the land at any price lower than the highest and best-use value would be the same as providing a subsidy, and might not be in the best interest of the public.

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