Saturday, May 15, 2010
Two Boston area advocacy organizations that promote greater access to health care released Best Kept Secrets: Are Non-Profit Hospitals Informing Patients About Charity Care Programs challenging whether charity hospitals are complying with American Hospital Association "Communicating Charity Care and Financial Assistance Policies" guidelines designed to ensure patients are aware of charity care policies. In the report, the Access Project and Community Catalyst described survey results for 99 randomly selected nonprofit hospitals. They found that while most (85) of the hospitals mentioned the availability of charity care on their websites and/or during telephone calls with surveyors, fewer than half (42) provided application forms, only a quarter (26) provided information who qualified for charity care, and only a third (34) provided information in a language other than English. The report recommended, among other measures, that states consider enacting laws and regulations designed to increase the transparency of charity care policies and that both the federal and state governments provide greater oversight to ensure compliance with all charity care related legal requirements, including compliance with the new transparency obligations contained in the recent federal health care reform legislation.