California solons want more transparency from tax-exempt hospitals
SACRAMENTO, California – Assembly members Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) and Filipino American Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) have amended a bill that would let the public know how not-for-profit hospitals are earning their tax-exempt status.
Assembly Bill 503, which provides increased transparency and accountability for hospital “community benefit” spending. The bill is backed by The Greenlining Institute, California Nurses Association and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.
“These hospitals get a massive tax break for operating for the benefit of the community, but today it’s nearly impossible to get a true picture of whether they’re spending these community benefit dollars in ways that truly help communities in need,” said Greenlining Institute Health Policy Director Carla Saporta.
“AB 503 will help make sure we know whether these hospitals are earning their tax exemption, give communities a voice in the process, and help our health care system reflect the needs of the 21st century,” Saporta added.
The bill directs the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development to develop a standardized format for community health plans and standardized methodology for estimating the economic value of community benefits.
It also requires community health needs assessments and community benefit plans to be posted online and that hospitals obtain comments from local health care providers, nurses, patients, community groups and health-related organizations.
Hospitals must also include at least one member from an underserved or vulnerable population in their community benefit planning committees.
AB 530 stipulates that 90 percent of available community benefit moneys be “allocated to charity care and projects that improve community health for underserved and vulnerable populations,” and that at least 25 percent “be allocated to community building activities geographically located within underserved and vulnerable populations.”
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