Several California hospitals do not spend enough on so-called "upstream" benefits, or proactive efforts, to prevent illnesses in the community, according to a study by the Greenlining Institute
The study estimated that state hospitals often devoted less than 10% of their community benefits budget on such efforts, with the state's largest hospitals allocating less than 7.2% of their operating budgets on community benefits and spending less than 1.1% of community benefits funding on upstream benefits.
For report cites as examples:
- Kaiser Permanente in 2009 exploited an Internal Revenue Service ruling by spending three times more on research and health professional education than community benefits; and
- Sutter Coast Hospital in Northern California reported a "negative community benefit," meaning that it provided no tangible benefits for the community other than charity care.
The study also found that reporting on community benefits spending varied across the state.
Greenlining recommended that:
- State lawmakers pass legislation to provide greater clarity to community benefits reporting laws;
- More state support to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development to increase reporting accountability; and
- Giving community members a say in how providers conduct community health assessments...