COMMUNITY BENEFIT REPORTING

The state legislature has taken on the daunting task of implementing federal health reform.  One provision of of the Affordable Care Act calls for an increase in the quality of, and accountability for, community benefit activities by nonprofit hospitals.  As a result, HB 2341 has been proposed to comply with this section of the Affordable Care Act.  If passed, the bill would:

—  Require nonprofit hospitals to submit a community health needs assessment to the Department of Health every three years.

—  Require nonprofit hospitals to submit a community benefit implementation strategy to reflect the community health needs assessment.

—  Require nonprofit hospitals to provide community benefits, including charity care.

You can view a full summary here.

Now, there has been some controversy over the past few years regarding the compensation of nonprofit hospital executives. With nonprofit hospital executives taking in millions, many began to wonder if the nonprofit status was padding pockets of senior hospital leadership rather than helping the community.  HB 2341 seeks to address, in part, this issue:

Nonprofit hospitals enjoy significant tax benefits in Washington. In return for this advantage, it is expected that nonprofit hospitals provide a commensurate level of benefit to the communities that they serve, including charity care. […] As of January 1, 2014, with the implementation of the Washington health benefit exchange and the expansion of the medicaid program, the number of uninsured individuals in Washington will decrease substantially. The reduced number of uninsured people in Washington presents an opportunity for hospitals to emphasize community benefit efforts that address broad population-based health responses to the prioritized needs of the community, through a collaborative effort with community members, rather than the provision of uncompensated care to uninsured individuals.

Proponents say this bill is step forward in ensuring that nonprofit hospitals are contributing to communities as much as they are receiving in tax-exempt benefits — in other words, keeping nonprofit hospitals nonprofit.