Community Benefit Standards: Are Local Provider Systems Meeting Community Needs?
Those of you who have been following our Facebook page and this website know that we have made requests of our local medical care systems for trustee membership, conflict of interest policies, corporate bylaws, and financial assistance policies. In every case our requests have been either met reluctantly and with significant delay (trustee membership, conflict of interest, financial assistance) or outright refusal (corporate bylaws) despite the repeated claim by these groups that they "serve the public". Not-for-profit hospital systems are required by law to develop and implement plans to meet their communities' health needs based upon an assessment of those needs.
Modern Healthcare recently reported that two GOP senators (Grassley and Hatch) have sent a sharply worded letter to the acting IRS Commissioner (David Kautter) demanding to know: 1. Are not-for-profit hospital systems meeting the standards required of their tax exempt status and how the IRS enforces non-compliance with those standards?
2. Are not-for-profit hospitals cherry-picking patients to exclude the poor? Grassley and Hatch cited evidence to support that claim.
3. Are not-for-profit hospital systems including staff and resident training expenses under community benefit requirements? 4. What is the IRS doing to monitor hospital system compliance and list those who are not in compliance?
The Grassley Hatch letter also noted a drop in charity care spending. A Modern Healthcare report from January noted that charity care spending is flat following years of decline as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
FVHC will be asking similar questions of our local provider systems.
Image from Brazos County Health Department.