Proving community benefit by reducing sickness

To date, efforts to make community non-profit hospitals justify that they're providing enough benefits have been controversial, with many accusing hospitals of gaming the system. Another current set of proposals that would tax physicians and doctors to pay for uninsured patients, including one making the rounds in California which would tax physicians 2 percent on their revenues and hospitals 4 percent.

Instead of pushing providers to pay a new tax or prove that they're doing the right thing for the community, why not ask hospitals to achieve measurable results in cutting incidence and prevalence of disease in the populations they serve? This approach would focus on metrics such as how intelligently they handle end-of-life planning, chronic disease complications, length of disability and acute disease case management, all of which have been proven to reduce the cost of sickness in a community, suggests Healthcare Financial Management Association columnist Scott MacStravic. Not only would these activities demonstrate that the health organization was contributing, they would also make good business sense, as the wellness efforts would attract additional business from employers, insurers and governments. All told, this could be a win for all the parties involved, MacStravic contends.

For more information on MacStravic's proposal:
- read this HFMA Views column