AHA charity proposal draws Congressional criticism

A proposal by the American Hospital Association (AHA) citing bad debt and unpaid costs for Medicare, Medicaid and indigent care costs as "community benefit" is drawing fire from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA). In a letter to his membership, AHA president-elect Richard Umbdenstock said last week that while he supports community benefit reporting guidelines proposed by the Catholic Hospital Association and Voluntary Hospital Association, he believes that it's also critical to tally up these additional costs, and numbers of patients affected, to give a full picture of the extent to which hospitals are serving their communities. "Dollars alone can never communicate the complete story of how communities benefit from programs and services that hospitals provide," he said in a note to members. "[Hospitals must] summarize and highlight activities that benefit community residents--with special emphasis on the number of lives that have been touched." But Grassley, for his part, has said that this approach "perpetuate[s] a murky picture of its member hospitals' charitable care."

Get more background on the issue:
- read this report (.pdf)