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WHA, UW Population Health Institute releases reports on Community Benefits

Monday, October 13, 2014  
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WHA, UW Population Health Institute releases reports on Community Benefits

October 8, Wisconsin Health News

Wisconsin hospitals provided $328 million in at-cost charity care in 2013 and lost nearly $1 billion caring for patients on Medicaid, according to a report released Wednesday by the Wisconsin Hospital Association. Meanwhile the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute launched a website detailing community health needs assessments and implementation plans of hospitals and health departments across the state. Hospitals are required under the federal health reform law to complete a formal community health needs assessment in partnership with public health and other community partners.

"This new resource is designed to help those working on common challenges across the state to connect with each other, share ideas and make faster progress," Karen Timberlake, director of the UW Population Health Institute, said in a statement.

Hospitals in the state provided a total of $1.8 billion in community benefits last year, WHA said. In addition to the charity care and loss associated with caring for patients in Medicaid, hospitals spent $70 million on activities aimed at improving community health and $193 million on education for healthcare professionals, according to the report.

"Without that care in place, state and local government would have a much greater burden in trying to deliver these essential services to a vulnerable population," WHA Executive Vice President Eric Borgerding said in a statement.

In terms of dollars, hospitals provided a similar amount of charity care in 2013 as they did in 2012, but reported 200,000 more instances of care - 1.4 million, up from 1.2 million in 2012. WHA Senior Vice President Brian Potter said that may reflect the fact that more services are provided in less costly outpatient settings. Hospitals reported $267 million in bad debt in 2013, up $6 million from 2012. Part of that increase can be attributed to increases in deductibles and co-pays.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association published a separate report in September that found that the state's general medical-surgical hospitals provided $703.7 million in charity care and incurred $719.6 million in bad debt in fiscal year 2013.  Measured as a percentage of total gross patient revenue, total uncompensated healthcare at the general medical-surgical hospitals remained the same last year as in 2012 at 3.6 percent.

That report, required by the state, is based on hospital charges, while the WHA report released Wednesday uses hospital costs.

Read the WHA Community Benefits report.

See the UW Population Health Institute website.

Read the uncompensated care report.

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