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Hospitals Exceed Pledge to Maintain Community Benefit Spending

Oregon’s hospitals contributed $2.3 billion in community benefit to the communities they serve in 2017, a record amount. That comes at the same time Oregon has achieved one of the highest rates of healthcare coverage in the nation at close to 95 percent.
“Oregon’s hospitals made a commitment to community benefit in 2015, knowing that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would change the landscape and reduce the number of Oregonians without coverage with the expansion of the Medicaid program,” said Andy Van Pelt, OAHHS Executive Vice President. “We are proud they have maintained that commitment.”
While much of hospitals’ community benefit contribution comes as underpayment for delivered care (for example, Medicaid reimburses hospitals for 68 percent of their cost), that is just one component. Here are some others, many of which address the social determinants of health, and their 2017 total expenditure:
Charity Care: $196 million
Community Health Improvement Programs: $43 million
Community Health and Clinical Research: $63 million
Health Professions Education: $216 million.
Roberta Duenas of Rogue River is just one of the thousands of Oregonians who have been helped by an Oregon hospital’s commitment to community benefit. Duenas, 66, said that before she became an Oregon Health Plan member, she received assistance with her bill at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. “Without that help and then the coverage from Medicaid, I don’t know where I’d be,” she said.
Hospitals are keenly aware of the increase in charity care spending in recent years. This follows an initial drop in charity care spending during the first few years of the ACA, as more Oregonians obtained coverage.
“We know that many Oregonians struggle with healthcare access,” said Van Pelt. “Hospitals have long been part of the conversation to make improvements to our community benefit system, including simplifying the process and greater transparency.”
Van Pelt said he hopes that any statewide changes to community benefit will reflect that collaborative spirit.
In the meantime, Van Pelt said hospitals will continue their commitment to the state’s needy and to their investment in the communities they serve.
Click here to read a comprehensive report on Oregon hospitals’ community benefit activity.