Many Americans continue to struggle with the high cost of medical care, unaware that non-profit hospitals are required to provide information about potential financial assistance or relief. But, a provision in the 2010 health law seeks to clarify what help hospitals should offer.
Advocates were on Capitol Hill Friday to raise awareness about the provision and to call on hospitals and community groups to increase access to care while also controlling costs. The health law requires hospitals to fulfill four requirements: to develop written financial assistance policies that they make available to patients, to limit what they charge for services, to observe fair billing and debt collection practices, and to conduct regular community needs assessments to make sure help is going to communities that need it most.
Michael Miller, policy director at the national health advocacy group Community Catalyst, said that the need exists in the community for care for the uninsured. He said that hospitals and community groups must now figure out “what’s the most rational way to do this instead of [asking] are we going to pay for this or not.”