2009 Community Benefits Hospital Reports Now Available Online on the Attorney General's Website
The Attorney General's Community Benefits Guidelines, first established in 1994, provide a framework for how non-profit acute care hospitals should formally evaluate area health needs, work with community partners to design and develop programs to meet these needs, and report these activities to the Attorney General's Office. Chronic disease prevention and management, charity care, and increased access to care are among the benefits residents received through the Community Benefits Program. For example, hospitals developed diabetes education and management programs, language-appropriate health education materials and provided enrollment assistance for the uninsured. Hospital annual reports can be found at www.mass.gov/ago/communitybenefits.
Sixty non-profit acute care hospitals and health care systems in the Commonwealth filed community benefit reports with the Attorney General's Office. In addition, two for-profit hospitals submitted reports. Overall, hospitals report spending $304 million in community benefit and community service programs and $177 million in charity care.
Starting in 2011, hospitals and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) are expected to file community benefit reports under revised guidelines issued by Attorney General Coakley's office in 2009. The revised guidelines are designed to improve transparency and accountability in community benefit reporting, promote comprehensive planning processes and community involvement, and advance statewide health priorities.
The revised guidelines are the result of a review by the Attorney General's Community Benefits Advisory Task Force of key stakeholders who share the common goal of improving the health of communities across the state. Under the revised guidelines, hospitals and HMOs submit annual reports to the Attorney General on their community benefit programs and expenditures, enabling both Attorney General oversight and public scrutiny of non-profit health care institutions.
The new guidelines:
- require goal setting and measurement for community benefit programs;
- encourage alignment of community benefit activities with statewide health priorities, such as chronic disease management and reducing health disparities;
- streamline and standardize the reporting format; and
- encourage pre-planning and community involvement in the development of community benefit programs;
- recommend hospital debt collection practices that balance the needs of consumers burdened with medical debt with the needs of providers to seek reimbursement for their services.
The Community Benefits Program is coordinated by Health Policy Analyst Kimberly Henry, Assistant Attorney General Lois Johnson, Division Chief Tom O'Brien of Attorney General Coakley's Health Care Division and Division Chief David Spackman of Attorney General Coakley's Non-Profits/Public Charities Division.