Hospitals Provided $622 Million in Community Benefits According to Reports Filed with AG Coakley’s Office
BOSTON – Massachusetts hospitals provided over $622 million in community benefits for residents of Massachusetts in Fiscal Year 2011 according to reports published today by Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office.
“The community benefits provided by Massachusetts hospitals continue to be a vital link to needed services and I am pleased that hospitals provided significant resources in 2011 and followed our guidelines to report those efforts in a standard, transparent way,” AG Coakley said. “By assessing and then addressing unmet health needs through community benefit programs, hospitals have a significant impact across the Commonwealth.”
Non-profit hospitals offer community programs or provide free or discount care in support of their charitable mission. Most hospitals report addressing one of the five statewide priorities identified in the Attorney General’s guidelines including supporting health care reform, chronic disease prevention and management, reducing health disparities, addressing unmet health needs of the uninsured and promoting wellness of vulnerable populations.
Fifty non-profit acute care hospitals and health care systems in the Commonwealth filed community benefit reports with the Attorney General’s Office for FY 11. Non-profit hospitals reported a total of $559 million in community benefit expenditures, of which $58.2 million was for free or discounted care provided directly to patients. On average, Massachusetts non-profit hospitals expended more than three percent of their total patient care expenses on community benefits.
In addition, twelve for-profit hospitals reported nearly $63 million in community benefit expenditures, $15.7 million of which was spent on free or discounted care for patients.
Many hospitals are developing programs to address the daily living conditions of communities that affect well-being or “social determinants of health,” such as environmental and housing conditions and access to healthy food and recreational opportunities. For example, hospitals reported programs providing violence intervention, civil legal services for patients, neighborhood clean-up efforts and support to reduce infant mortality.
In February 2009, Attorney General Coakley issued revised Community Benefit Guidelines for non-profit, acute care hospitals and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) with the assistance of an Advisory Task Force made up of representatives from hospitals, health maintenance organizations, community health centers, and consumer advocacy groups.
Under the guidelines, hospitals and HMOs submit annual reports to the AG’s Office on their community benefit programs and expenditures that enable both Attorney General oversight and public scrutiny of non-profit health care institutions. The revised guidelines, effective October 1, 2009, were designed to improve transparency and accountability in community benefit reporting, encourage pre-planning and community involvement, and align hospital and HMO community benefit activities with statewide health priorities. This is the second year of reporting under the revised guidelines.
Non-profit acute care hospitals were asked to submit their community benefits reports to the AG’s Office by April 1, 2011, and the reports were subsequently reviewed by the Office. Reports on the community benefits provided by HMOs were due on June 1, 2011.
The Community Benefits Program is coordinated by Assistant Attorney General Lois Johnson and Mediator/Policy Analyst Merritt Dattel McGowan, with support from Division Chiefs of Attorney General Coakley’s Health Care Division and Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division.