Yesterday Attorney General Martha Coakley released updated Community Benefit Guidelines for Non Profit Acute Care Hospitals and Health Maintenance Organizations (Links: the guidelines and the press release). The AG and her staff led a thoughtful guideline revision process including convening an Advisory Task Force that worked via consensus to advise the AG (HCFA was honored to serve on the Task Force) and a public comment period.
These new community-focused guidelines prioritize transparency and accountability. Community Benefits programs must include pre-planning that engages the community to set goals and measurements. We are specifically pleased by the elevation of health care disparities to a statewide priority and the special attention to fair medical debt collection practices.
The real work is ahead as these guidelines go into effect in 2010. Now that the AG has provided a meaningful tool for collaboration between communities, providers and insurers, communities and consumers must engage in the Community Benefits pre-planning process to maximize the potential of the guidelines. Stay tuned to this blog for more information on community rollout events for the guidelines and how you can get involved.