CHA News Article

Charity Care Committee Holds First Hearing

The newly formed Senate Select Committee on Charity Care and Nonprofit Hospitals held its first hearing Aug. 15, focusing on whether the state’s nonprofit hospitals provide enough community benefits and charity care to justify their tax-exempt status.

State law requires all nonprofit hospitals to annually report their community benefits plans, including the amount of charity care they provide, to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). In her opening remarks, committee Chair Sen. Ellen Corbett asked, “Are taxpayers getting a fair deal?” The two-hour hearing featured six panelists, including some from the California Nurses Association (see attached agenda). Several speakers recommended adopting statewide community benefits standards, requiring nonprofit hospitals to provide a minimum level of charity care, and penalizing hospitals if they do not submit their community benefits reports to OSHPD as required.

Although CHA was not offered an opportunity to sit on the panel, Anne McLeod, CHA senior vice president, health policy, provided comments during the public portion of the hearing. “Hospitals provide community benefits that are differing in size and scope. This flexibility allows hospitals to respond to the unique needs of each community,” said McLeod.

McLeod also noted that comparing one hospital’s community benefits report to another does not provide a good understanding of whether or not a particular hospital is meeting the needs of the community it serves. “We have to look at the community — look at their needs — and then compare that to what the hospital is doing to help meet those needs. That is the type of comparison that should happen.”

Corbett closed the hearing by saying the committee will review the information over the next few months and consider what it can do to implement policy recommendations. Legislation is likely to be introduced next year to put a number of the recommendations in place.