Tuesday, May 2, 2006
As reported by Modern Healthcare today, the AHA board on Saturday approved charity-care guidelines for hospitals:
According to the criteria, hospitals must publicize financial-aid policies and provide free care to uninsured patients earning less than 100% of the federal poverty level. For patients earning from 100% to 200% of the poverty level, hospitals should bill no more than 125% of the Medicare rate or the price paid by public or private insurers.
The trade journal also reports that the AHA board addressed "'community benefit spending,' an umbrella term used to describe various activities from free and discounted care to public health education":
The association called for hospitals to undertake a periodic community-needs assessment; assign an employee to oversee community benefit plans; use benefit guidelines jointly drafted by the CHA [Catholic Health Association] and hospital alliance VHA [Voluntary Hospital Association]; and include the total with yearly Internal Revenue Service filings.
The AHA's outgoing president has written a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) in which he asked "for legislation to exempt hospitals from class-action lawsuits over uninsured care if the hospitals' charity-care policies meet or exceed criteria that was approved by the AHA board April 29." [tm]