Mahaska Health Partnership provided $4,493,000 in community benefits to Mahaska County, according to a recently completed assessment of those programs and services. That amount, based on 2011 figures, includes $3,921,000 in uncompensated care and $572,000 in free or discounted community benefits that MHP specifically implemented to help county residents.
Community benefits are activities designed to improve health status and increase access to healthcare. 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 educational programs.
The results for MHP 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.
“We consider community benefits to be an important part of our mission and as a county hospital, we also understand our commitment to provide care to those most in need,” said MHP CEO Jay Christensen. “Included in our community benefits is the support we provide the Oskaloosa Free Clinic. While the service is not a part of MHP and falls under the Free Clinics of Iowa organization, we support the efforts of our local volunteers who staff the clinic and donate labor for lab and radiology services.”
IHA President and CEO Kirk Norris explained that 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.
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 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. MHP lost more than $2 million from Medicare and Medicaid in 2012.
Iowa hospitals, which employ more than 70,000 people, continue to implement strategies that increase value to their patients and communities by offering high-quality care to individuals and addressing the health needs of identified populations.