Hospitals Provided Close to $660 Million in Community Benefits According to Reports Filed with AG Coakley’s Office
BOSTON – Massachusetts hospitals provided close to $660 million in community benefits for residents of Massachusetts in Fiscal Year 2012 according to reports published today by Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office.
“Our reports show that Massachusetts hospitals continue to address the unmet health needs of their communities through these important community benefit programs,” AG Coakley said. “We are pleased that hospitals have provided these significant resources in 2012 and followed our guidelines to maintain transparency.”
A total of 50 non-profit acute care hospitals and health care systems in the Commonwealth filed community benefit reports with the AG’s Office for Fiscal Year 2012. Non-profit hospitals reported a total of $590 million in community benefit expenditures, of which $63.7 million was reported for free or discounted care provided directly to patients.
On average, Massachusetts non-profit hospitals expended 3.12 percent of their total patient care expenses on community benefits. In addition, 12 for-profit hospitals reported $65 million in community benefit expenditures, $12.6 million of which was reported as free or discounted care for patients.
The nearly $660 million in total community benefits from hospitals represents a 5.3 percent increase, over the previous fiscal year.
Most hospitals report addressing one of the five statewide priorities identified in the Attorney General’s Community Benefit Guidelines. Those statewide priorities include 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.
Many hospitals are developing programs to address the daily living conditions of communities that affect well-being or “social determinants of health.” For example, hospitals reported programs providing violence intervention, civil legal services for patients, neighborhood clean-up efforts and support to reduce infant mortality. Hospitals are also taking an active role in addressing mental health and substance abuse needs through targeted programs for diverse populations including vulnerable youth, military veterans and refugee communities.
In February 2009, AG 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, which enable both Attorney General oversight and public scrutiny of non-profit health care institutions. The revised guidelines, effective October 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 third 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, 2013, and the reports were subsequently reviewed by the office. Reports on the community benefits provided by HMOs were due on June 1, 2013.
The Community Benefits Program is coordinated by Mediator/Policy Analyst Joel Dankwa, Financial Analyst Crystal Nwaroh, and Assistant Attorney General Margret Cooke, with support from Division Chiefs of Attorney General Coakley’s Health Care Division and Non-Profits/Public Charities Division.
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