WASHINGTON, DC (September 7, 2006) —The Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA) announced today that its revised guidelines released in May for planning, measuring, and documenting community benefits have been formally adopted by 95 percent of its member health systems and 90 percent of the member hospitals, and additional commitments are being received daily as various governance boards meet. To further exemplify the Catholic health ministry's commitment, more than 4,000 members of system and facility governing boards, sponsors, and executive staffs have viewed a video underscoring the importance of community benefit programs and of measuring and reporting such activities consistently.
The news of this significant commitment by Catholic hospitals was announced as Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, CHA's president and chief executive officer, met with U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Sen. Charles Grassley, this afternoon. CHA has been working with the Senator and his staff to improve and standardize how not-for-profit hospitals count and report community benefits.
"The broad adoption of the guidelines is a clear signal of the Catholic health ministry's ongoing commitment to be accountable to our communities and to effectively demonstrate how the ministry carries out its mission of service, especially outreach to those for whom the health care system is not always readily available," noted Sr. Carol.
"I'm very appreciative of Sr. Carol and all her colleagues at the Catholic Health Association for their dedication and commitment in working with me to establish best practices for nonprofit hospitals. The new voluntary guidelines for community benefits for nonprofit hospitals developed by the Catholic Health Association are a good step forward and will bring real benefits to many in need," said Sen. Grassley.
Sr. Carol acknowledged the appropriateness of Sen. Grassley's "examining the not-for-profit hospital field to make certain that its favorable tax treatment is justified and constitutes sound public policy." She assured the Senator that the Catholic health ministry "understands that all of our stakeholders—community members, physicians, sponsoring organizations, employees, and governing bodies — want and deserve to know about the great work we are doing in our communities everyday."
In a conversation with reporters following the meeting, Sen. Grassley said, CHA's guidelines "show a deliberate effort to do things right. I will be urging other hospitals to use this as a template because I think this is an honest approach." He further remarked that CHA's cooperation with the Finance Committee "materialized beyond expectations."
Sen. Grassley added: "The Finance Committee will be having a hearing on September 13 that will include Sr. Carol and provide her an opportunity to educate Senators about the new guidelines for community benefit established by the Catholic Health Association. These are guidelines that many, many hospitals have already adopted. The hearing will look at many issues regarding nonprofit hospitals, including: charges to low-income uninsured individuals, charity care, and community benefit. The hearing will also consider closely whether the good policies put forward by the Catholic Health Association, and adopted by hospitals across the country, can serve as a possible standard for all nonprofit hospitals. I congratulate Sr. Carol and her hardworking staff on their efforts."
A Guide for Planning and Reporting Community Benefit updates CHA's 1989 document that provided the first-ever guidelines for assessing community needs, creating programs to meet those needs, and publicly reporting the outreach services delivered. To develop the revised guidelines, CHA worked closely with the hospital alliance VHA Inc., as well as with the Healthcare Financial Management Association.
The Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), founded in 1915, supports the Catholic health ministry’s commitment to improve the health status of communities and create quality and compassionate health care that works for everyone. The Catholic health ministry is the nation's largest group of not-for-profit health systems and facilities that, along with their sponsoring organizations, employ more than 750,000 women and men who deliver services combining advanced technology with the Catholic caring tradition.