Private, Not-for-Profit Hospitals Need to Increase Levels of Charity Care
Alameda County private, not-for-profit hospitals are failing to provide enough care for the county's uninsured residents, and community members must hold them "more accountable to meeting public needs," Dan Cloak, chair of Vote Health, writes in an Oakland Tribune op-ed. Cloak notes that while the county's private, not-for-profit hospitals reported more than $1 billion in revenues last year, less than 1% of these funds were spent on charity care. The hospitals' charity care expenditures were $20 million below the national average for private, not-for-profit hospitals, Cloak notes. Cloak cites several problems currently hindering access to health care in Alameda County, including a rising number of employers "refusing" to provide health coverage, the "crowded" and "dilapidated" public clinic at Fairmont Hospital and the possible closure of the Alameda Health Center. While the African-American community has been hit "hardest" by these barriers to affordable health care, Cloak writes, that the health of the entire community is "faring poorly in the hands of private corporations." To ensure that everyone has affordable access to care, Cloak argues that hospitals need to provide simpler applications, as well as standard eligibility criteria and procedures to appeal care denials, and he calls on local, state and federal officials to "take charge" of the situation by "pressur[ing]" private, not-for-profit hospitals to provide more charity care. This can be achieved through restrictions on future tax breaks and "special treatment," he concludes (Cloak, Oakland Tribune, 1/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.