Hospitals: ACA's patient finance rules too onerous

Non-profit hospitals are complaining to the Office of Management and Budget that the current charity care and community benefit requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are far more onerous than originally estimated, AHA News Now reported.

In a letter sent late last week to the OMB, the American Hospital Association claims the regulations--which are meant to communicate to uninsured or underinsured patients their financial options--are too burdensome.

"The proposed regulations fall short of meeting the preamble's goal of preserving flexibility for hospitals while assuring access to information for patients who need financial assistance," states the letter, which was signed by AHA General Counsel Melinda Reid Hatton. "Instead, the proposed regulations are frequently excessively complex and prescriptive."

Hatton claimed that instead of the 11.5 hours per year originally projected to fulfill the requirements it would actually exceed 250 hours per year and may even reach more than 2,000 hours for some facilities, according to the letter.

Such tasks, according to the AHA, would include drafting a financial assistance policy for patients, drafting those documents into foreign languages for some minority patients and establishing a collections process for delinquent accounts.

The AHA asked for flexibility on the matter, and asked to meet with OMB officials at a later date.

Although the ACA is expected to greatly expand the number of insured patients hospitals receive, as many as 23 million Americans--about 8 percent of the population--will still lack insurance, according to the Monroe News-Star.

To learn more:
- here's the AHA News Now brief
- read the AHA letter to the OMB (.pdf)
- check out the News-Star article