- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for Massachusetts Hospitals and HMOs Contributed Nearly $1 Billion in Community Benefits in 2020
BOSTON — In fiscal year 2020, Massachusetts hospitals and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) contributed nearly $1 billion in Community Benefits for residents of Massachusetts, according to reports published today by Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office. The contributions made by these organizations include significant investments in health equity and social determinants of health.
“The COVID-19 crisis has placed enormous strain on our health care system, exposing and exacerbating existing health inequities,” said AG Healey. “In the face of these challenges, hospitals and HMOs found ways to not only sustain investments in their communities, but to expand them to address heightened needs during the pandemic.”
A total of 57 hospitals filed Community Benefits reports for fiscal year 2020, covering the period from October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020. Of those, 47 non-profit acute care hospitals reported a total of $746 million in Community Benefit expenditures, of which $314 million was reported as free or discounted care provided directly to patients. In addition, 10 for-profit hospitals reported nearly $40 million in Community Benefit expenditures, $30 million of which was reported as free or discounted care for patients.
A total of six HMOs filed Community Benefits reports for fiscal year 2020. They reported $163 million in Community Benefits expenditures, of which over $113 million was contributed to the state’s Health Safety Net, which pays for care for uninsured and underinsured residents who do not have access to affordable health coverage.
Due to COVID-19, many Community Benefits programs were administered virtually or paused while other programs were newly created to address emerging community needs related to the pandemic. The fiscal year 2020 Community Benefits reports include a new “Coronavirus” program tag to allow hospitals and HMOs to identify Community Benefits programs created in response to the pandemic. There are 69 programs in the 2020 reports that include this new tag. The AG’s Office also allowed all Hospitals and HMOs the option to update their Community Benefits Implementation Strategies (included in the Community Benefits reports) to account for new community needs and programs related to the pandemic.
Hospitals and HMOs reported allocating about half of Community Benefits program spending to one of four statewide health priorities—chronic disease ($119 million), housing stability and homelessness ($8 million), mental health ($66 million), and substance use disorders ($25 million)—and the other half to addressing other health needs identified by the community in fiscal year 2020. This year marks the second year of reporting Community Benefits under the Attorney General’s Office’s updated Community Benefits Guidelines which encourage non-profit hospitals and HMOs to adopt a framework centered around health equity while promoting investments in key social determinants of health.
Many hospitals and HMOs implemented Community Benefits programs aimed at addressing health inequities and social determinants of health, including the following:
- To help build a more diverse health care workforce, Saint Anne’s Hospital awarded scholarships through its Multicultural Health Scholarship Program to bilingual or bicultural students pursuing studies in health care or related fields.
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital continued its Stronger Generations Initiative to address racial inequities in infant mortality and birth outcomes. Through the initiative’s eight distinct programs, pregnant individuals and their families are connected with medical, social, and economic support during and after their pregnancies, helping to reduce maternal and pediatric health disparities in the short term and laying the groundwork for equitable health and social outcomes in the long term.
- In response to an increase in food insecurity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greenagers Food Sovereignty Program, sponsored in part by Fallon Health, helped increase access to healthy produce among income-qualifying families in the remote Berkshire region. Raised-bed vegetable gardens donated to participants and community gardens were tools used to grow thousands of pounds of produce and helped make nutritious food more readily available to those who needed it most.
- To reduce health disparities and promote healthy weight for children in Boston, Boston Children’s Hospital partnered with community health centers through its Fitness in the City program. This program leverages hospital resources and expertise to support a community-based approach that helps children and families build healthy habits through culturally relevant nutrition education, physical activity, and access to healthy food.
The Community Benefits Program is managed by Assistant Attorney General Sandra Wolitzky and Paralegal Troy Brown of AG Healey’s Health Care Division.