OAHHS pushes for financial assistance clarity in new law

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (OAHHS) announced today its collaboration with lawmakers to pass HB 4020 and insert language into the bill to help clarify financial assistance options in Oregon hospitals.

As a whole, HB 4020 is a bill that outlines criteria for licensing extended stay centers (ESCs) and requires the Oregon Health Authority to apply for federal matchings funds for ESCs through CMS. But within that bill, the OAHHS worked with legislators to add language that will clearly communicate medical financial assistance options to patients. Specifically, the bill says that all hospitals will be required to give patients notice of these options when requested, as well as on their billing reports, and hospitals must maintain public displays with financial assistance information posted in accessible locations. The amended language also requires the OHA to develop a standard application for financial assistance to be used statewide.

“Hospitals sought this legislation because it will ensure clarity around how they communicate about financial assistance policies with patients, ensuring the neediest patients are given the help they need,” said Andy Van Pelt, executive vice president of OAHHS. “We don’t want any patients in need to find there are barriers to receiving financial assistance. All hospitals in the state offer financial assistance, and we need to be sure everyone who qualifies is getting it.”

The financial assistance in the bill relates to the community benefit policy pledge that OAHHS announced in 2015. The voluntary initiative provides families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, with free medical care.

“These new requirements build on hospitals’ existing commitment to providing help to those in need. Oregon’s hospitals provide hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of free and reduced price care each year,” added Van Pelt. “They remain committed to providing appropriate assistance to any patient in need. The measures contained in the amendment will ensure that there’s few opportunities for people to slip through the cracks.”

HB 4020 passed in the House on Thursday and then passed in the Senate today by a vote of 29-1.