IRS proposes new rules to govern charity care

The Internal Revenue Service has issued a proposed rule regarding how charity care at not-for-profit hospitals is regulated.

The 94-page rule includes guidance regarding financial assistance and charity care policies, which not-for-profit hospitals will be covered by the policies, and how care may be charged to those patients who qualify for financial assistance.

The regulations would specifically rule out gross charges for uninsured patients and would require hospitals to charge no more than they would an insured patient. Financial assistance policies also would have to be disseminated either in the hospital setting or to the general public.

However, the agency ruled that providing a summary of policies would suffice. "Informing and notifying hospital visitors and community members about a FAP does not require a  hospital facility to provide these individuals with the FAP or all of the information in the FAP," the rule said. "Rather, provision of a summary of the FAP or notification of the FAP's existence, combined with instructions on how to obtain more information about the FAP, will suffice."

The IRS said for the moment it would not directly link financial assistance rules to the community needs of a specific facility, but that it may revisit that issue in the future, noted AHA News Now.

The regulations were issued after the American Hospital Association issued 23 pages of suggested changes to the regulations in 2011. The AHA also has raised some objections regarding governance of readmission penalties, HealthLeaders Media reported.

To learn more:
- read the AHA News Now brief
- check out the IRS regulations
- read the HealthLeaders article