July conference to provide forum for discussing coming community benefit requirements

June 15, 2012

Next year will be the first year that tax-exempt hospitals will be required to report to the Internal Revenue Service on their efforts to assess and address community health needs. Most ministry systems and facilities are gearing up now to comply with this federal reporting mandate, and many have questions about what specifically will be required of them and how specifically they will be able to meet the requirements.

A July 24-25 conference in St. Louis from CHA and VHA, a national network of not-for-profit health care organizations, will enable ministry community benefit leaders to talk through the questions they have with experts from the IRS, CHA, schools of public health, ministry systems and other organizations. The conference is called "Assessing and Addressing Community Health Needs."

The federal mandate that tax-exempt hospitals conduct a community health needs assessment is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The law requires hospitals to complete the assessment and adopt an implementation strategy that responds to identified needs. The Affordable Care Act also asks hospitals to get input from persons with broad knowledge of the community and public health experts in conducting these assessments. The assessments must be completed at various times throughout 2013, depending on when a hospital's fiscal year begins.

The IRS has yet to resolve some questions and clarify some terms related to the community health needs assessment, but a July 2011 IRS notice spelled out what provisions the agency anticipates including in the regulations. According to Julie Trocchio, CHA senior director of community benefit and continuing care, while many Catholic health systems and facilities have been assessing and reporting on their community benefit activities for many years, this is the first time they will have to complete such work in a specified way to meet a government requirement. Hospitals that fail to comply with the IRS regulations may face a $50,000 fine.

"Some are asking for best practices on how to collect the data needed for the assessment, how they are to work with public health agencies, how to tap into internal resources to get needed information — they want specifics," says Trocchio. "They want to know what is required and what works."

Ask the expert
Conference keynote speaker Preston Quesenberry, of the office of the chief counsel of the IRS' tax exempt and government entities division, is the primary author of the community benefit reporting requirements. He'll answer questions from the audience at the July forum. Tyler Norris, of Community Commons and Kaiser Permanente, will explain how ministry members can collaborate with other organizations and in the process use their resources more wisely. Community Commons is an interactive, online resource for improving communities.

Nine additional conference speakers will explore such topics as how to set community benefit priorities, implement strategies and address challenges that arise throughout the process.

The conference is part of a constellation of CHA resources on community benefit programming. CHA's guide to assessing community health needs and developing implementation strategies is available here. CHA has held a series of conferences and webinars addressing top concerns of community benefit leaders, many of which are available to CHA members on CHA's community benefit web page.

Information on the July conference and other community benefit resources is available here.


Copyright © 2012 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2012 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.