Lucas County Health Center (LCHC) provides $4,284,428 in community benefits to Lucas County, according to a recently completed assessment of those programs and services. That amount, based on 2018 figures, includes $1,349,308 in uncompensated care and $2,935,120 in free or discounted community benefits that LCHC specifically implemented to help Lucas County residents.
Community benefits are activities to improve health status and increase access to health care. With uncompensated care and charity care, community benefits include such services and programs as health screenings, support groups, counseling, immunizations, nutrition services and transportation programs.
The results for LCHC are included in a statewide report by the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) that shows Iowa hospitals provided community benefits in 2018 valued at more than $945 million, including more than $253 million in charity care.
The programs and services accounted for in the survey were implemented in direct response to the needs of communities, counties and regions. Many of these programs and services would not exist without hospital support and leadership.
Uncompensated care and charity care also play roles in the community benefit for services provided by hospitals. Total uncompensated care in 2018 was valued at $537 million. The survey also showed total Medicare and Medicaid losses (at cost) of $232 million.
Charity care in Iowa hospitals has declined precipitously since implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including Iowa’s expansion of the Medicaid program. Recent efforts in Congress to repeal the ACA and roll back expansion would not only leave tens of thousands of Iowans without insurance, but also would financially endanger hospitals statewide, which is why IHA has strenuously opposed such legislation.
Iowa hospitals, which employ more than 76,000 people, continue implementing strategies that increase value to their patients and communities by offering high-quality care, addressing the health needs of communities and employing process improvements that bend the cost curve. By seeking ways to raise quality, reduce waste and increase safety, Iowa hospitals have become value leaders, as shown in multiple studies, including those by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care and the Commonwealth Fund.
These efforts, with IHA’s 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.