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PA Hospital Association Issues Charity Care Guidelines; Guidance Outlines Five Principles for Charity Care, Financial Aid, Collections Practices.

HARRISBURG, Pa., July 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) this week provided its member hospitals with a comprehensive set of guidelines addressing charity care, financial aid, and collection practices.

"Hospital care and hospital financial practices are fraught with complexity," said HAP President and CEO Carolyn F. Scanlan. "These charity care guidelines provide Pennsylvania hospitals with another tool to help them implement policies that are easily available to, and understood by, their patients and communities.

"Pennsylvania's hospitals have a long history of addressing charity care and financial aid responsibilities through their health care missions. These guidelines take that commitment to a new level."

The guidelines incorporate key elements of Act 77 of 2001 (Tobacco Settlement Act) and Act 55 of 1997 (Institutions of Purely Public Charity Act), as well as federal tax exemption requirements.

The charity care guidelines flow from five key principles articulated by HAP's CFO Advisory Group, Committee on Public Payor Policy, Trustee Leadership Steering Committee, and Board of Directors:
 1. Concern over a hospital bill will never prevent any individual from
 receiving emergency health services. Hospitals will communicate this
 message clearly to prospective patients and to local community service
 agencies, and make it clear that essential services will be provided
 without regard to ability to pay.
 2. Hospitals will assist patients in obtaining health insurance coverage
 from privately and publicly funded sources whenever appropriate.
 3. Hospitals will have charity care and financial aid policies and
 practices that are consistent with their missions and values, and with
 federal and state law, and that take into account each individual's
 ability to contribute to the cost of his or her care, as well as the
 hospital's financial ability to provide the care.
 4. Financial aid policies will be clear, understandable, and communicated
 in a manner that is dignified and in languages appropriate to the
 communities and patients served. These policies will be made readily
 available to prospective and current patients and to the community at
 large.
 5. Debt collection policies - by both hospital staff and external
 collection agencies - will reflect the mission and values of the
 hospital, and will be monitored carefully to avoid unintended
 consequences.




The guidelines also provide hospitals with tips for updating their financial aid policies; developing plans to communicate such policies to patients; identifying appropriate staff to administer the policies; and administering the policies fairly, respectfully, and consistently.

The HAP document, Charity Care and Financial Aid Guidelines for Pennsylvania Hospitals, is available for download at http://www.haponline.org/public/charity_care.

HAP is a statewide membership services organization that advocates for nearly 250 Pennsylvania acute and specialty care, primary care, subacute care, long-term care, home health, and hospice providers, as well as the patients and communities they serve. Additional information about HAP is available online at http://www.haponline.org/.

CONTACT: Roger H. Baumgarten, Director, Media Relations, Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, +1-717-561-5342, Cell: +1-717-329-9537, rbaumgarten@haponline.org

Web site: http://www.haponline.org/public/charity_care

Web site: http://www.haponline.org/
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 27, 2004
Words:500
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