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Hospitals Increase Community Benefit Despite Pandemic

Total hospital community benefit spending grew by $81 million in 2020 to $1.7 billion, a 5 percent increase over 2019. The growth came despite financial havoc brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2022 Community Benefit Report was compiled and summarized by Apprise Health Insights using data from the most recently available fiscal year. The document includes an interactive dashboard with data from individual health systems and hospitals.

Oregon hospitals’ community benefit has increased steadily for years, rising 40 percent since 2015 to the levels of 2020, which are the latest figures available.

“We are proud that community hospitals in Oregon have maintained their strong commitment to community benefit, despite the very difficult combination of rising costs and flat revenue that hospitals experienced throughout the pandemic,” said Becky Hultberg, OAHHS President & CEO. “Oregon’s hospitals are anchor institutions, and community benefit is just one way that they contribute to creating safe and healthy communities.”

Hospitals’ overall community benefit spending is an increasing portion of their net patient revenue, rising from 11.9 percent in 2015 to 13.1 percent in 2020.
Oregon’s hospitals are dedicated to strengthening the health of the communities they serve through voluntary community benefit contributions. To learn more about what counts as community benefit and what does not, click here.  

Unreimbursed Medicaid expenses continue to make up the majority of community benefit spending, but in recent years Charity Care has been growing steadily. These numbers show that while most Oregonians now have health care coverage (95 percent), affordability remains an issue. Oregon’s hospitals have long supported an expanded and fully funded Medicaid program.

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 also spent about $371 million on a range of programs and activities designed to improve community health and well-being, many targeting the social determinants of health. These activities include programs that address the root causes of poverty and homelessness, child care and parenting supports, programs that promote healthy eating and physical activity, and many more.