AHA asks Congress to modify community health needs proposed rules

The American Hospital Association said it supports the concept of the IRS's proposed rules for community health needs assessments (CHNA) but urged Congress to make changes to the rule and sanctions for charitable hospitals that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act.

The AHA said in an announcement that the proposed rule improves the IRS' 2011 guidance to reduce the burden on tax-exempt hospitals, but said satisfying the proposed requirements could take thousands of hours and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

In a June 27 letter to Congress, AHA recommended changes to the rule that would clarify how the government will enforce the statute. It also asked for more time to comply with requirements that affect hospital policies, procedures and information systems. In addition, the association urged the agency to specify whether the rules apply to government hospitals and if so, how.

The proposed rule requires a hospital to conduct a CHNA at least once every three years and to adopt an implementation strategy to meet the needs identified in the assessment. It also requires hospitals to annually report on how it is meeting the needs identified through the CHNA and address consequences when a hospital fails to comply with the requirements.

"Even with all of these improvements, the size, scope and cost of CHNAs to meet the detail of the proposed regulations can be significant," the AHA said in the letter. "Based on estimates and experience, satisfying the requirements of the proposed regulations may involve thousands of hours and the expenditure of tens of thousands of dollars or more."

To learn more:
- here's the announcement
- read the letter