Report: Calif. Hospitals’ Community Benefits Difficult To Determine
It is difficult to determine how much not-for-profit hospitals in California spend on community benefits and what that funding is used for, according to a recent Greenlining Institute report, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
Details of Report
The report specifically focused on three San Francisco hospitals:
- Dignity Health's St. Mary's Medical Center;
- Kaiser Foundation Hospital; and
- Sutter Health's California Pacific Medical Center.
Researchers examined publicly available data and interviewed stakeholders involved with the facilities' San Francisco community needs assessments.
The report found that data on community benefits provided by the hospitals are fragmented and incomplete (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 10/29).
According to the report:
- Kaiser Foundation Hospital reported $24.3 million in spending on community benefits, but only provided details on $568,000, which was given as community grants;
- The report estimates that about 43% of community benefit spending at St. Mary's went toward Medicare shortfall, which is not allowed to be considered as a community benefit at the federal level; and
- CPMC did not provide consistent reporting for the nearly $167.4 million in community benefit contributions it reported (Greenlining Institute report, October 2014).
Carla Saporta, health policy director at Greenlining, said, "When we looked at publicly available data, we found there's no way to tell how most community benefit dollars are spent, whom they help or even if all the spending claimed as community benefit is real."
The institute recommended that legislation be enacted to develop a standard for reporting hospitals' community benefits.
In a statement, Kaiser said the $568,000 figure was included in an annual report and "does not purport to be a complete description of our community-benefit spending."
The statement noted that Kaiser "makes significant investments in increasing access to health care and coverage," in addition to funding community-based health education and prevention programs.
David Sewell -- the San Francisco regional vice president for the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California -- commented on behalf of Dignity Health and Sutter. Sewell said the report was "recycled from previous Greenlining data used for legislation (AB 503) sponsored by the California Nurses Association."
He called the report "opinion" and noted that "[i]nformation about hospital community benefits is reported to the state -- and is available in a variety of places" (Sacramento Business Journal, 10/29).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.