Greater Regional Medical Center provides $1,615,084 in community benefits to southwest and south-central Iowa, according to a recently completed assessment of those programs and services. That amount, based on 2011 figures, includes $1,287,060 in uncompensated care and $328,024 in free or discounted community benefits that Greater Regional specifically implemented to help residents in the service region.
Community benefits are activities designed to improve health status and increase access to health care. Along with uncompensated care (which includes both charity care and bad debt), community benefits include such services and programs as health screenings, support groups, counseling, immunizations, nutritional services and transportation programs.
The results for Greater Regional Medical Center are included in a statewide report by the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) that shows Iowa hospitals provided community benefits in 2012 valued at nearly $1.6 billion, including more than $641 million in charity care. All 118 of Iowa’s community hospitals participated in the survey.
The programs and services accounted for in the survey were implemented in direct response to the needs of individual communities, as well as entire counties and regions. Many of these programs and services simply would not exist without hospital support and leadership, said IHA President and CEO Kirk Norris.
But the ability of Iowa hospitals to respond to such needs is being affected as hospitals recover from the economic downturn, as well as manage huge losses inflicted upon hospitals by Medicare and Medicaid, totaling more than $274 million (a 5.1 percent increase over last year’s report). More than 60 percent of all hospital revenue in Iowa comes from Medicare and Medicaid. Hospitals serving small, rural communities and counties are particularly dependent on the programs. More than 60 percent of all hospital revenue in Iowa comes from Medicare and Medicaid.
Iowa hospitals, which employee more than 70,000 people, continue to implement strategies that increase value to their patients and communities by offering high-quality care to individuals, addressing the health needs of identified populations and implementing process improvements that bend the cost curve. By seeking out ways to raise quality, reduce waste and increase safety, Iowa hospitals have become value leaders, as shown in multiple studies by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care and the Commonwealth Fund.
These efforts, along with IHA’s ongoing advocacy to create fairer payment methodologies from Medicare and Medicaid, help ensure the financial stability of hospitals, making it possible for them to provide the services and programs most needed by their communities.