MA Attorney General Launches Website to Open Access to Community Benefits Reports

The Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative has promoted community benefits support provided by Massachusetts hospitals and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) as a potential Age- and Dementia Friendly Funding opportunity. According to reports recently published by Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office, the state’s hospitals and HMOs distributed $800 million across Massachusetts in fiscal year 2018.

“Investments by Massachusetts hospitals and HMOs are integral to addressing community health needs,” said AG Healey said. “I want to thank Massachusetts hospitals, health plans, and community advocates for their ongoing support of important local programs that fund free and discounted medical care, create healthy conditions for our residents, and reduce healthcare disparities in our communities.”

In its ongoing efforts to ensure transparency and accountability in health care spending, the Attorney General’s Office has launched a new website for annual reports. This website features quick downloads and a clear, accessible interface, making finding and downloading reports easy. The website contains all reports since 2001, catalogued by year, with a custom report download function. The site also allows the public to see detailed information on hospital and HMO community benefit programs and their plans for future engagement.

A total of 58 hospitals filed Community Benefits reports for Fiscal Year 2018. Forty-eight nonprofit acute care hospitals reported a total of $596 million in Community Benefit expenditures, of which $263 million was reported for free or discounted care provided directly to patients. In addition, 10 for-profit hospitals reported nearly $45 million in Community Benefit expenditures, $27 million of which was reported as free or discounted care for patients.

Six HMOs filed Community Benefits reports for Fiscal Year 2018. They reported $160 million in Community Benefits expenditures. In addition to funding a range of community benefits programs, these HMOs contributed nearly $107 million to the state’s Health Safety Net, which pays for care for uninsured and underinsured residents who do not have access to affordable health coverage.

AG Healey’s Community Benefits Program supports a key component of the mission of hospitals and HMOs. The office’s Community Benefits Guidelines encourage hospitals and HMOs to build upon their commitment to address unmet community health needs each year by formalizing their approach to planning for annual benefits, collaborating with community representatives in developing programs, and filing annual reports with the Attorney General’s Office on their efforts.

In 2017, AG Healey convened health care experts to examine updates to the AG’s Community Benefits Program and undertook a yearlong revision of the guidelines to establish a more collaborative and community-driven approach by hospitals and HMOs in Massachusetts. The updated Community Benefits Guidelines were published in February 2018 and will be fully effective starting in Fiscal Year 2019. The new guidelines improve coordination of hundreds of millions of dollars in community health programs made by hospitals and HMOs.

In its ongoing efforts to ensure transparency and accountability in health care spending, the Attorney General’s Office has launched a new website for annual reports. This website features quick downloads and a clear, accessible interface, making finding and downloading reports easy. The website contains all reports since 2001, catalogued by year, with a custom report download function. The site also allows the public to see detailed information on hospital and HMO community benefit programs and their plans for future engagement.

The Community Benefits Program is managed by Assistant Attorneys General Sandra Wolitzky and Amara Azubuike of AG Healey’s Health Care Division.

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