Henry County Health Center provides $1,839,219 in community benefits to Henry County, according to a recently completed assessment of those programs and services. That amount, based on 2017 figures, includes $1,147,372 in uncompensated care and $691,847 in free or discounted community benefits that Henry County Health Center specifically implemented to help Henry County residents.
Community benefits are activities designed to improve health status and increase access to health care. Along with uncompensated care (which includes both charity care and bad debt), community benefits include such services and programs as support groups, counseling, immunizations, nutritional services and transportation programs.
The results for Henry County Health Center are included in a statewide report by the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) that shows Iowa hospitals provided community benefits in 2017 valued at more than $880 million, including more than $224 million in charity care.
“HCHC offers programs to improve the health of area residents and meet the health care needs of our communities. The programs and services offered by HCHC directly relate to our mission to enhance the health of individuals and our communities through high quality, effective and efficient services. Some of these activities include educational health presentations and specific programs designed to help individuals in their efforts to manage health conditions,” explained HCHC CEO Robb Gardner.
The programs and services accounted for in the survey were implemented in direct response to the needs of individual communities as well as entire counties and regions. Many of these programs and services simply would not exist without hospital support and leadership, said IHA President and CEO Kirk Norris.
Uncompensated care (which is made up of both charity care and bad debt) also plays a role in overall community benefit for services provided by hospitals. Total uncompensated care in 2017 was valued at $502 million. The survey also showed total Medicare and Medicaid losses (at cost) of $226 million.
Charity care in Iowa hospitals has declined precipitously since implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including Iowa’s expansion of the Medicaid program. Recent efforts in Congress to repeal the ACA and roll back expansion would not only leave tens of thousands of Iowans without insurance, but would financially endanger hospitals across the state, which is why IHA has strenuously opposed such legislation.
Iowa hospitals, which employ more than 74,000 people, continue to implement strategies that increase value to their patients and communities by offering high-quality care to individuals, addressing the health needs of communities and implementing process improvements that bend the cost curve. By seeking out ways to raise quality, reduce waste and increase safety, Iowa hospitals have become value leaders, as shown in multiple studies by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, the Commonwealth Fund and others.
“Henry County Health Center is committed to enhancing quality of service and implementing activities that provide value to our communities and improve customer satisfaction. Our participation in the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative Hospital Improvement Innovation Network along with our efforts to enhance patient transparency throughout the organization demonstrate our belief that we must continue to be innovative in order to bring value for the care our patients and elders receive,” explained Gardner.
These efforts, along with IHA’s ongoing advocacy to create fairer payment methodologies from Medicare and Medicaid, help ensure the financial stability of hospitals, making it possible for them to provide the services and programs most needed by their communities.