Washington, D.C. — Nonprofit hospitals provide a valuable service to their communities, filling gaps in the U.S. health care system and social safety net and providing billions of dollars’ worth of uncompensated care every year. At the same time, however, some of these hospitals have been engaging in behaviors that run counter to their mission, such as suing patients and garnishing wages.
A new report released today by the Center for American Progress examines how nonprofit hospitals have been carrying out their charity care and community benefit obligations and offers policy solutions to ensure that they are upholding these responsibilities.
The report recommends several policy options, including:
- Setting clear standards for charity care eligibility and obligations
- Tightening the definition of “community benefit”
- Requiring hospitals to engage the community in needs assessments and implementation plans
- Requiring nonprofit hospitals to participate in public health programs
- Limiting extraordinary debt collection practices
- Empowering the Federal Trade Commission to regulate nonprofit hospital conduct
“Some hospitals’ excess revenues come at least in part from overcharging patients—in other words, hospitals’ coffers for charity care and community benefit are effectively filled by taxing the sick,” said Emily Gee, vice president and coordinator for Health Policy at CAP and co-author of the report. “Policymakers need to ask themselves whether giving hospitals carte blanche for community benefits in exchange for tax breaks is the best way to allocate resources for public health problems and to pay for care for those who cannot afford it.”
Read the report: “Policies to hold nonprofit hospitals accountable” by Emily Gee and Thomas Waldrop
For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at [email protected].